The GenTwenty Podcast Episode 5: Self-Care vs. Self-Soothers

In this episode, Nicole and Marina talk about self-care vs self-soothers. Plus, what self-care means, is it too commercialized, and what is a self-soother anyway?

What is self-care?

Does it just mean to literally “take care of yourself” or is there a deeper meaning? We believe there are two levels of self-care:

Outward self-care

This covers the more surface-level or physical aspects of caring for ourselves. Things like, taking a shower, taking your medicine, putting pants on and celebrating that you did just that, etc.

Inward self-care 

This covers more of the mental health side of things. Saying “no” to things that don’t serve you, ending toxic relationships, seeing a therapist, etc.

It’s important to take care of our physical selves but also mental self-care is often where the “hard” work comes into play. Self-care is about putting yourself first so you can be your best self and not burn yourself out. It’s about saying “no” to things you don’t want to do, and about doing what helps nurture you even when it’s hard.

For example, therapy is self-care, but it’s not necessarily a “fun” self-care, like taking a relaxing bath. Often what comes to mind when we think of self-care is a woman with a glass of wine wearing a face mask. This is self-care, for sure, but it’s not the wine or the mask that’s the true self-care, it’s the time and intention behind the act.

Self-care is a process, and so often we chase the “one thing” that we do that will make us feel better. It’s not like getting a haircut and then you’re good for three months. It’s a daily, weekly event.

Is “self-care” too commercialized?

“Self-care” has become a major buzzword and it has become commercialized to sell products, but also now more than ever people are at least thinking about “self-care,” which we didn’t discuss ten, twenty, thirty years ago. 

A good way to figure out if you’re giving yourself true self-care is if you could do it without buying something. For example, if you see something advertised as a “self-care product” you have to ask yourself “will this product truly help me feel better” and the answer is no, then that is not self-care. You have to pay for therapy, yes, but it’s something that truly helps you feel better. You have to pay for a face mask, but will the physical mask help you feel better? Maybe not. But the time you take to sit quietly, breathe, think, and be with yourself while you have a face mask on, that’s’ the truer self-care.

A lot of self-care products that are marketed commercially are more self-soothers.

What is a self-soother? Self-care vs self-soothers.

 If you ever watched Parks and Rec, you’ll know the phrase “Treat yo self” and that is what a self-soother is. Self-soothers are things that make us feel better in the moment, that bring us joy or cheer in the moment, but they won’t solve your problems or heal you. Buying yourself a bracelet you love, or shoes you love is totally great (as long as you’re not breaking the bank) but you have to remember that it is a temporary fix. 

True self-care comes with hard work that isn’t always fun. But over the long term, it helps you grow stronger, because you’re better able to take the time you need to reset, recharge, or say “no” to things that don’t serve you. It’s really important to take time and do the deep hard work. It’s not selfish. We all have needs and it’s important to recognize what you need, and it’s ok to ask for and advocate for it.

Self-Care actions that might surprise you:

  • Putting pants on (celebrate it!) or getting dressed up to feel good about yourself
  • Going to therapy
  • Having hard conversations with your partner
  • Setting boundaries and prioritizing yourself
  • Saying “no” to what you don’t want to do, even if it disappoints someone
  • Saying “yes” to what you want to do, even if it’s not on your “productive to-do list”
  • Setting a sleep schedule for yourself so that you are getting enough sleep
  • Carving out an hour every day for yourself to exercise
  • Carving out an hour every day for yourself to do whatever you want to do. 
  • Doing what you need to do to show up for yourself

Do what you need to do to honor yourself. You deserve it. Do something now to fill up your cup.

Continue reading about self-care from the writers of GenTwenty: