The Difference Between Self-Care & Self-Soothing

The Difference Between Self-Care & Self-Soothing

While pop culture will tell you that a bubble bath & glass of red wine is self-care, that's actually more like self-soothing. And both can be important! It's crucial to have tools and practices that will make you feel better in the moment (self-soothing). However, acts of self-care can be the tools that lead to truly improving your well-being.

Sometimes acts of self-care can be difficult in the moment (re: the many people who think that using protection 'kills the mood'). But practicing these actions are what benefit your future self.

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Self-soothing focuses on feeling better in the present moment. While important, these actions generally have a short-term effect rather than improving long term wellbeing. 

Examples of self-soothing:

  • Face masks
  • Fresh flowers
  • Bubble baths
  • Listening to music
  • Retail therapy
  • A cup of tea



Self-care, on the other hand, can be uncomfortable or inconvenient in the moment - but will support your longterm growth and wellbeing.

Examples of self-care:

  • Practicing safe sex
  • Getting tested between partners
  • Communicating with your partner
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Going to therapy
  • Mammograms & pap tests


Acts of self-care can drastically improve your self-confidence.

Most human behavior can be divided into four key areas:

  1. Things that might not feel good but are good for us
    Getting papped, saying no, exercise

  2. Things that feel good and are good for us
    Having connected & pleasurable sex with a trusted partner, practicing self-pleasure

  3. Things that feel good but aren't good for us
    Retail therapy, too much social media, alcohol

  4. Things that might not feel good and aren't good for us
    Saying yes when we want to say no, comparison


The more you engage in genuine self-care by adopting habits that fall within 1 & 2, the more your self-esteem will build.

Having too many habits that fall into categories 3 & 4, on the other hand, can hurt your self-confidence.

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Imagine this:

If you had a friend who was constantly doing things that hurt you, you wouldn’t trust them. The same goes for your relationship with yourself. The more you engage in acts of kindness for yourself, the more you trust yourself & the more confidence you build.

As you go through your day, audit your habits and see what categories they fall into. Without judgment, see if you can start replacing some of your 3 & 4 habits with 1 & 2 habits.

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