Self-Soothing vs. Self-Care

The term self-care has become extremely well known over the past few years. We talk about it at work, school, with our kids and with our families. But what actually is self-care? Believe it or not, self-care is not putting on your face mask at the end of the night or listening to relaxing music on the way to work. These would be examples of self-soothing.

What is the difference between Self-Care and Self-Soothing?

Self-soothing involves actions that assist us in managing negative feelings such as stress in the moment. Remembering to bring your stress ball and leave home early enough to grab your comforting cup of coffee before work is self-soothing, not self-care. Self-care, the term we all know, and love is actually a little more specific.

Self-care is when we focus on addressing basic needs such as eating healthy, exercising, personal hygiene, and attending therapy if our mental health is suffering. It is about building resilience, bettering ourselves and changing habits, which can actually be very uncomfortable at times. We can grab our self-soothing tools, however when our self-care gets uncomfortable to help us make it through a distressing moment.

Self-care and self-soothing are both important and should be implemented regularly in our lives. Just remember that they are different things and serve different purposes!


About Shelton Piland: 

Shelton is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. Shelton received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.

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