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self love

These days, you can’t read a women’s magazine, scour Instagram or Facebook, or chat with a group of gal pals without hearing the terms “self-care” or “self-love.” Both buzzy expressions have become increasingly popular, but they’re often confused. In fact, self-care and self-love are two distinctly different things. While they are related (hint: you can’t really have one without the other), it’s important to distinguish them to ensure that you’re fulfilled in both regards.

So, what is the difference between self-care and self-love? In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about each, and how they overlap.

Self care

Taking a relaxing bath with fragrant salts and some mood music. Treating yourself to a deep tissue massage after a strenuous work week. Making time for a morning run around your neighborhood. All of these acts fall under self-care, which revolves around keeping your mind and body healthy.

Self-care often means eating nutritious foods that give you energy. Or, it could mean spending a little extra time on your skincare regimen at night. It could also mean pampering yourself by getting your nails done or splurging on a high-quality bra that you know fits well and feels comfortable. The definition of self-care will vary a bit from person to person, because everyone has different needs. Ultimately, though, it comes down to listening to your body’s needs and tending to them. The objective for any act of self-care is to revive, restore, and rejuvenate yourself. After all, no one else is going to take care of you the way you can.

Some more examples of self-care include making sure you get enough sleep, setting limits on when you’ll check/answer work emails outside the office, planning a vacation when you know it will be a sanity saver, or investing in your personal skills and education by taking a class that interests you.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Self Care Is Important

Self love

Do you ever feel like you’re your own worst critic? Are you quick to identify your flaws, faults, and failures? Do you ever find that you’re putting yourself down in your own head? That’s where self love comes in. At the core, self-love is all about accepting — and moreover, appreciating — yourself. It’s about acknowledging all of your unique strengths and accomplishments, and being kind to yourself when you “fall short.”

When you don’t practice self-love, you put yourself at risk for a slew of issues, including depression and anxiety. When you love yourself, you are far more prepared to excel in your career, foster healthy personal relationships, and to feel happier overall.

So, how does one practice self-love? Well, think about what kinds of things make you feel loved. Compliments make most of us feel good. So why wait for someone else to pat you on the back or tell you why you’re awesome? Saying positive affirmations out loud to yourself every day can be immensely rewarding. It’s also a good idea of making a daily habit to congratulate yourself for one accomplishment every day, whether it was getting out of bed on time to squeeze in a class at the gym or asserting yourself with your boss on a challenging project.

Many people tend to confuse self-care and self-love because both require honoring your needs. But self-love is unique in that it’s not just about taking care of your body and mind, but your whole self. It’s about forgiving yourself when you don’t achieve every goal you had for that day, because you are imperfect. It’s about making your own health and happiness a priority, instead of worrying so much about others that you forget to set boundaries.

A major component of self love is living in the present, and accepting yourself as is. It’s nearly impossible to do that when you live your life in a constant state of motion and distraction. So consider making some time for meditation every day, even if it’s just for five minutes. Thank your body for all that it does for you, and all it allows you to do. Slowing down for just a few minutes is a great way to practice self love, because it offers an opportunity to really listen to your intuition and your needs and connect to them.

Clearly, self-care is one way to nurture self-love. But the major difference is that self-care is achieved by acting externally, and self-love is achieved within.

Related: 3 Acts Of Self Love To Start Doing Every Morning


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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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