Self-Care vs Self-Indulgence?

It’s 2 O’clock on a Sunday afternoon, I’m sited on my bed still in last nights pajamas, my fingers fully coated in cake residue, halfway through the latest season of YOU when Netflix breaks my bliss.

“Are you still watching?” It stops to ask. Well for the first time in a minute, I’m not under the pressure of a looming school deadline. So yes Netflix, I am still watching. I hit continue as the guilt creeps in.

Is this self-care as I’ve been assuring myself all day? Or is it self-indulgence? And perhaps more important, what’s the difference?

Self-care are the things we do that help us function and thrive. It is the thing that lights up your brain and gives you a sense of peace, joy and relaxation. In our culture of busyness, this idea of is it ever okay to have a moment to yourself keeps a lot of us in a bind.

Self-care can look like a lot of different things but it leaves you feeling nourished and not depleted. It requires you to make responsible and conscious choices that may not be the most comfortable at the moment but will contribute to your long term well-being.

Self-indulgence on the other hand centers around activities and behaviors that provide instant gratification that is fleeing once its over. Often times, it leaves you regretting not taking care of things that need your immediate attention and in the end, you end up feeling worse. 

What is the Difference between Self-care and Self-indulgence?

Sometimes, certain practices start as self-care but with time they turn into self-indulgence. For example, going out with a friend once a while may have started as self-care. You needed some social time, someone to talk and vent to. You needed someone who could give you some advice, one who could give you a different perspective of things while still helping you relax. Then you left your coffee date rejuvenated, with a new outlook on life, ready to face your problems. That’s incredible. That’s self-care!

But then, the coffee dates with your friend become regular meetings that cut into your work time. They stop serving the initial purpose and although they still feel good in the moment, they no longer bring that same level of rejuvenation and satisfaction once you leave. Oftentimes you may think to yourself that you could have used that time and money for something else. These acts are no longer considered as self-care but rather self-indulgence.

How to recognize self indulgence

1. Are you proactive or reactive while participating in this activity?

For an activity to be considered self-care you need to be a proactive participant. Waking up early to meditate, taking a course to further your career or going for a massage because your muscles are tense are all examples of activities that benefit your well-being in the long run. Therefore, they are considered self-care. On the other hand, when you do something because you feel entitled to it, it’s no longer self-care, but rather self-indulgence.

2. Does the activity leave you satisfied or unsatisfied?

Self-care activities are usually pre-planned and when your done they give you a sense of being closer to your goal. By influencing your well-being in a positive way it leads to a greater life satisfaction and potentially a sense of accomplishment.

Waking up in the morning to meditate may not be the easiest thing to do. But having a clear mind all day, feeling calmer and more in control of your feelings may definitely be beneficial to your short term and long term well-being. Self-indulgent activities, on the other hand, leave you empty and unsatisfied. They are often based on instant gratification and the pursuit of fleeting happiness.

3. Does it help escape your present reality or help build your new reality?

Self-care often makes you look into the future and helps you improve the quality of your life. In this case, it is synonymous with leaving old habits behind and building new ones that enhance your everyday life. Self-indulgent activities do not do any of that, they are often driven by your emotions and are based on your present reality rather than future possibilities.

Where are you now? Do you often self-indulge and live for instant gratification or are you on your self-care journey? Let me know in the comments below. As for me, I may still find it hard to separate self-care from indulgence but I know I’ll get there. And in the meantime, I’ll choose grace over guilt. 

Category :

Health & Wellness






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