In my own self-care practice, I’ve started differentiating two types of self-care. Things I do for now and things I do for later. I call now, “self-soothing,” and later, “self-tending.”
Self-soothing are the things I do to feel better now. Usually, I rely on them when I get overwhelmed by anxiety or depression. For example:
- Brushing my skin with soft bristles
- Drinking hot chocolate
- Playing Tetris or Bejeweled on my phone (It really helps, there’s studies!)
- Resting with a weighted blanket or heating pad
- Watching funny YouTube videos
Self-tending is how I create a foundation that helps me feel balanced in the future. I tend to myself as I would tend to a garden, a pet, or a child. That means hydration, nourishment, rest, and love. Some things are directly related to my body and some are related to the space around me.
Some things can fall into both categories. In fact, I bet you could argue that any action in self-care can be in either category depending on how you use it. If you do it to feel better now, that’s self-soothing. If you do it to feel better later and for longer, that’s self-tending.
These things for me have both an immediate soothing effect as well as a longer-term tending cause.
- Take a shower
- Plan a vacation
- Practice a musical instrument
- Help someone else
What is your most important self-care action? Is that action for self-soothing or self-tending or both?