Self-care and self-love – are they the same thing?


How to nurture self-care and cultivate self-love.

The term ‘self-care’ is branded about a lot these days, but so is ‘self-love’. Are they different words for the same thing? Are we confusing the two? What do these words even mean, and how do we go about defining them.

According to The Oxford Dictionary self-care is – “the act of caring for yourself, for example by eating and sleeping well, taking exercise and getting help so that you do not become ill“. So, we can say we are in the act of self-care when we do something that benefits us to stay well, such as walking in nature, booking a spa treatment, going to the gym or partaking in our favourite sport; doing something that we love and that makes us happy. There is usually no discomfort in the act of self-care, why would there be? We are doing something that brings joy to our life and makes us feel good about ourselves. This is very diverse and different for everyone. My acts of self-care are walking my dog, getting out in nature, reading, getting an early night, or booking a relaxing treatment when I can.

So self-care refers to the intentional actions and practices you engage in to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It involves meeting your own needs, prioritizing self-nourishment, and engaging in activities that promote overall wellness

So what is self-love? Isn’t that doing the same thing? I love the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of this – “the feeling that your own happiness and wishes are important.

This is totally different to doing things that nourish your soul. They may contribute to it, but they aren’t its main purpose. The thing is you have to get real, and go through a lot of discomfort on the self-love journey. Self-love refers to the deep sense of regard, acceptance, and compassion you have for yourself. It involves recognizing your own worth, embracing your strengths and weaknesses, and nurturing a positive relationship with yourself. This isn’t easily achieved. It can take years and years, and an awful lot of personal development and change. Self-love is primarily an inward-oriented concept. It emphasizes developing a healthy self-image, fostering self-acceptance, and cultivating an internal sense of worthiness and fulfilment. It’s about embracing your strengths, forgiving your mistakes, and being kind and gentle with yourself.

Self-love is an ongoing and lifelong process that involves developing this healthy and nurturing relationship with yourself. It’s about recognizing your own worth, treating yourself with the same care, respect, and kindness you would offer to someone you really love. Sounds simple but it’s often overlooked. We can give all our love and attention to others, and often leave nothing left for ourselves. This can be anything from past conditioning (the people pleaser), to not recognizing our own value.

In essence, self-love is the foundation that underlies self-care. Cultivating your self-love enables you to recognize your worth and value, which in turn leads you to engage in further self-care practices. Self-care, in turn, supports and reinforces self-love by providing the necessary nourishment and care for your overall well-being. Both self-love and self-care are essential for leading a balanced and fulfilling life, both work together, and when in balance leads for a very happy, healthy and productive life.

But remember, this takes time; good things don’t come easily and require hard work. You could start with self-care; this will enhance your feelings of self-love, and is easier to do. Self-love requires patience and perseverance, and personal development. These things take time, and it will always be an on-going project.

Although they differ in their focus and application, I like to think of self-care and self-love as two parts of the same circle. Connecting, intertwining, and needing each other to become whole.

If you are looking for help with your personal development, I can help through life coaching. It’s a very empowering process. Drop me a message if you would like a free chat, or visit my information page click here

I wish you a happy and fruitful journey on your quest for self-care and self-love. If you would like more tips on self care this is great for resources

circular photo depicting the full circle of self -love and self-care
Photo by Lisa Fotios on