Self-Nurturing vs. Self Care (What’s The Difference)

Someone holds their clasped hands out with a seedling plant and dirt cupped inside.

While the topic of self care becomes even more popular–you can no longer scroll through social media or watch the news without seeing content dedicated to it–it can be difficult to understand what it fully means or how it is different from some of the other things we have already been doing for ourselves on a regular basis.

For example, one question I have seen all over the internet lately is: is there a difference between self-nurturing vs. self care?  

In order to answer that question in full, we need to examine what self care and self-nurturing are separately, some examples of each, and then compare them together. 

What is the definition of self-nurturing?  

According to the dictionary, the word nurture means to feed, develop or nourish. So self-nurturing literally means to feed, nourish and develop ourselves.

What are some examples of self-nurturing activities? 

1) Eating healthy foods 

Filling your body with nourishing foods, instead of unhealthy ones, will help vastly improve our physical health, as well as many other aspects of our life. 

2) Getting quality sleep 

Sleeping for the appropriate amount of time each and every night leaves us well-rested and more productive the next day.  

3) Finding a mentor 

Having someone to look to for guidance and help when we are struggling, whether it is in our personal or professional life, can really help us level up our life or expedite our personal growth in a real way. 

4) Learning from books, blogs, videos, and podcasts 

By enriching our minds and learning new things, we are nurturing ourselves. Watching that DIY channel so you can do those renovations we have been meaning to get to around the house, listening to a podcast about cooking so we can try that new recipe we saw on Pinterest, or reading blogs about self-love and self-care (like this one) can help you look at life in a different way.

What is the definition of self-care? 

Care or to take care means to provide for the needs of something. So, by that definition self-care then means to provide for your own needs.  

What are some examples of self care activities? 

1) Getting more exercise 

Whatever kind of exercise you enjoy can do wonders for your self-esteem and physical health. It can also help you feel more powerful. 

2) Starting a gratitude journal 

Being grateful has so many benefits to our lives. When we think more positively, more positive things start to happen to us, and focusing on the good things helps us to be more present in our lives as they are. 

3) Meditation

It isn’t always easy to sit with our own thoughts in a quiet state. Practicing mindfulness can really help our fast-paced lives slow down. This helps to reduce stress. 

4) Take a bath 

This is one of my favorite self-care activities, but taking a bath after a long and stressful day can literally melt the stress right off of you. Getting some quiet time after a day of noise and chaos does wonders for the soul. 

So is there really a difference between self-nurturing vs. self-care?

Do you see a pattern in the examples of both kinds of activities? Personally, I think both lists could be considered self-nurturing and self-care activities.  

You could technically say that providing for our own needs is feeding, nourishing, and developing ourselves. And you could also say that by nourishing and developing ourselves we are participating in self-care. 

However, I don’t feel it is as simple as saying they are interchangeable, although some people do use them interchangeably. 

When self-care first started to gain some traction, some people seemed to use self-care as an excuse to be selfish or self-indulgent. There are also some people out there that think self-care means going to the spa every week to get pampered, traveling to expensive locations, and buying themselves brand-new luxury items every single week. While everyone is entitled to make their own choices, that isn’t really what self-care is meant to be about.  

To be successful at self-care—real self-care—there needs to be a self-nurturing aspect involved in it and to be successful at self-nurturing you need to involve self-care.  

To me, you can’t be successful at one without the other. Yes, technically with self-care you could take care of your basic needs like drinking enough water. That is a basic need of the human body and would technically be taking care of a physical area of self-care, but the motive behind doing that self-care activity is to nurture yourself.  

A large part of taking care of yourself the correct way is also incorporating self-development and self-growth. Self-care is not just taking baths or going to the spa. It is also trying new things, and getting to know yourself on a much deeper level. Learning why you think the way you do, or how your emotions affect who you are as a person.  

It is about involving each area of self-care and using those different activities to feed and nurture yourself. 

Whether you believe self-care and self-nourishing are the same things, the intent is the same—to improve ourselves and take the best possible care of ourselves that we can. 

Either way, it sounds like a win-win to me.

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