Authentic Self-Care is not Pampering; It’s So Much More

Self-Love and Self-Care Aren’t The Same

People use these terms interchangeably, but that’s not accurate. Many also get what authentic self-care is mixed up. Self-love is necessary for authentic self-care to happen. Without self-love, you may have the strength for self-preservation but not self-care. Keep reading to unpack this more.

What Self-Love Is

At its roots, self-love is a deep connection to, understanding, and acceptance of your inner self. When you love yourself, you are connected to your innermost self and know that you are worthy as you are. When you’re disconnected from your innermost self, you struggle to love and accept yourself. The outer world’s criticisms, judgments, and conditioning tears down that inner belief in your intrinsic value and worth. The deeper your connection to your inner self, the easier it is to love yourself.

Think about it this way… is it easy to love a stranger? Like really love them, not just be infatuated with them? For most of us, the answer is no. We have to know someone, to have a connection with them, to love them. The same thing is true of our relationship with ourselves. You can only fall in love with yourself once you get to know yourself and are connected with yourself.

What Authentic Self-Care Is

Self-care is self-love in action. It means to mindfully and consistently nurture all aspects of your health. This includes physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health. People confuse self-care with pampering. Pampering is eating the chocolate cake because it tastes delicious and you had a hard day. Self-care is analyzing why the day was hard and taking action to make changes to support your well-being as needed. For example, suppose the day was hard because you’re surrounded by miserable people that drag you down. In that case, the chocolate cake will not do anything but give you a short-term dopamine boost. An example of proper self-care in this situation is making life changes to surround yourself with people that lift you up instead of drag you down.

Authentic self-care is eating a healthy meal after a long day when you’re tired and want to hit up the fast-food drive-thru. It’s getting out of bed to move your body before the workday begins, even when it’s cold and dark outside. It’s often the hard thing you don’t want to do but know it would make your life better if you did. This is why genuine self-care can’t exist without self-love. It’s easy to get a mani/pedi when you don’t love yourself, and a lot more complicated, if not impossible, to intentionally care for your long-term well-being.

Quote by Brianna West on pink background, "True self-care is not bath salts or chocolate cake... it's making the  choice to build a life you don't need to escape from."
Like this quote by Brianna West illustrates, authentic self-care is not pampering, it’s making choices that make your life better.

Examples of Self-Care in Action

Here are some real-life examples of what genuine self-care looks like in action to help you better recognize when you’re practicing it (and when you’re not):

  • Eating well. I don’t mean eating fatty, delicious foods, although treating yourself to those sometimes is okay. Instead, eating well is getting enough vitamins, essential minerals like magnesium and calcium, and herbs that support your health, like ashwagandha and other adaptogens. 
  • Staying hydrated. Did you know one of the warning signs of dehydration is anxiety? Another sign is feeling tired even after getting enough sleep. You might need a big glass of water if you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or exhausted. 
  • Meditating and breathing. You might think that meditation involves pretzel-like sitting positions and chanting strange phrases. Or you may believe that breathwork is all complicated breathing patterns. You’re welcome to meditate and breathe like that, but it doesn’t have to be so complex. You can also sit or lay in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed or your gaze unfocused, and focus on the sound and feeling of your breath. When thoughts intrude, notice them, then let them drift out of your mind and return to breathing. Again, you don’t have to breathe in any specific way; you just set your focus on the natural rhythm of your breath. 
  • Cleaning up. As a person with a very creative mind, I can be a bit of a slob. Often when my mental or emotional state is out of balance, my apartment will reflect that in the level of messiness. When I notice that I’m out of balance, I clean up at least one room, so it’s in order. The act of cleaning my apartment also cleanses my mind and emotions, especially if I clean with the intention of it doing so. 
  • Managing your mindset. If you read any of my blog articles from January 2023, you’ll know all about the power of (some) affirmations to re-wire your brain. If you didn’t, you can read them now here, here, and here. A 2021 article on the Stanford Report website by Mia Primeau states, “Research shows that mindsets play a significant role in determining life’s outcomes. By understanding, adapting, and shifting your mindset, you can improve your health, decrease your stress and become more resilient to life’s challenges.”
  • Getting help. There is no shame in getting help when you need it. I will say that again: there is no shame in getting help when you need it. Getting help is a courageous act, not a cowardly one. Asking for assistance can take many forms, like needing someone to watch your kids, signing up for a coaching program, or going to therapy. No matter what form of help you need, don’t hesitate to ask for it!
  • Journaling. You can use a pretty paper journal, a guided online journal like the one that I created, or daily journal prompts from an app like GrowthDay. (Note: I am a GrowthDay affiliate, so if you click through and decide to purchase GrowthDay, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you). You can use the Notes app on your phone or jot your thoughts down on a cocktail napkin. It doesn’t matter how you journal. What matters is that you journal. According to this study and many others, journaling is a habit that reaps extraordinary benefits. 

This is just a tiny sample of authentic self-care actions showing your love for yourself. You can think of at least one more. So drop your genuine self-care suggestion in the comments at the end of this post!

Authentic Self-Care Checklist

I made a handy-dandy self-care checklist. It includes boxes for essential physical and emotional daily self-care tasks. You can download it and complete it at the end of the day each day to check in with how you’re doing at taking care of yourself. It’s totally free! You should save and use it daily to up your self-care game. You can find it here.

This article helped you understand the essential difference between pampering and self-care and self-love and self-care. Self-love is how you feel about yourself and your connection to yourself. Authentic self-care translates your love for yourself into action to better yourself and your life. Now that you understand these distinctions, it’s time to use the checklist to ensure you’re taking care of yourself! And please make sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss the rest of the articles in this month’s series on authentic self-care.

Until Next Week,

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