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What’s the Difference Between Self-Care and Self-Love?

While the two may sound similar, self-care and self-love are quite different. In the simplest of terms, self-care is what we do for ourselves, and self-love is how we feel about ourselves. Both are extremely important for overall health and wellness, and they should both be strengthened and taken seriously to restore and maintain balance in our lives.

How do we define Self-Care?

Self-care is all about taking care of ourselves through action. Life can be hectic and extremely taxing, especially for a woman 50+ who has many different responsibilities and demands on her time. Self-care tactics help to restore balance in multiple areas and restore your sanity. It’s not all about vanity or the outer appearance either.

Sure, pedicures and hair appointments are great and worthwhile pursuits in the name of taking care of yourself, but simple things like meditation, coffee with a friend, or listening to an upbeat playlist are just as important.

Self-care is prioritizing the time necessary to rejuvenate our mind, body, and spirit. Yes, it’s normal and very necessary. We give a lot of our finite time and energy to the service of others. Family and work are typically the primary areas where we spend our time and energy, but when we’re running on empty, we aren’t performing to our own potential, and we’re also not doing anyone any favors.

That’s why self-care is so important. Being available to be able to put your best foot forward without feeling depleted is as important (if not more important) as what you put in the time and effort to do for others.

How do we define Self-Love?

We are taught to compare ourselves and others as it relates to progress, starting in early childhood. It’s meant to be an incentive to learn new things, but it can actually wreak havoc on your self-esteem and confidence as an adult.

If you’re constantly watching your neighbor and comparing your life to theirs, successes, and failures alike, it’s virtually impossible to feel whole. To feel good enough in your own skin, based on your own life and experiences.

No matter how many self-care tactics you engage in, without self-love, there will always be a nagging feeling of inadequacy, or you’ll continue to question your decisions habitually.

Self-love is about accepting your reality, accepting your circumstances, and doing the best you can to achieve the life you want. It’s about getting to know yourself on an intimate level and really, genuinely having love for yourself, just as you are in the present moment.

Try looking in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you.” It’s not as easy as it sounds. Many women will immediately start pointing out flaws and reasons for disdain or self-loathing. We resort to negative self-talk and tear ourselves down instead of being our own biggest cheerleader.

What’s the Difference between Self-care and Self-love?

Self-care is actionable, whereas self-love is internal and emotional – it’s the connection with oneself. You can perform multiple self-care techniques to make your body feel rested, restore your energy, and claim confidence in the way you look – but without self-love, what you really have is a story you tell yourself without hard evidence to back it up.

Self-love is a deeper connection with yourself and trusting yourself to have deeper connections with others. It’s about being okay with the fact that you can’t really control the future.

Life is going to happen whether you’re ready or not. But when you practice self-love, you build and generate confidence and you’re secure enough in yourself to know you will get through whatever challenges you are facing.

How are Self-care and Self-love Connected?

A form of self-love is listening to your body and giving it what it needs, specifically self-care. They both require that we live in the moment and be present, sometimes just with ourselves. Both also insist we understand that we are individuals and how we think, feel, and act are unique.

Self-care and self-love, when done intentionally, can transform our lives and help create a healthier, happier existence. In times of crisis, we seek out self-love to help on the frontlines of battle and self-care to make sure we are prepared for the fight.

Both are about honoring our body, mind, and spirit. One without the other is like missing a key ingredient to a recipe. You might be able to find a substitute, but the outcome won’t be the same. Essentially, it’s all about investing in yourself.

It means that you feel like you are worthy of the investment of time and effort and that you’re committed to carrying it out. It’s a beautiful union when it all comes together. Often when one is established (i.e., self-care) but the other isn’t quite developed (i.e., self-love), it feels as though something is askew, unbalanced, or unfinished. The puzzle isn’t complete, and your soul isn’t completely at rest.

When both are incorporated, self-care refuels your tank, and self-love gives you a level of faith and a deep conviction that you can go the distance no matter what happens. They could quite possibly be the Ying and Yang of life.

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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