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Self-care, or is it actually self-indulgence?

“You deserve the best, because your loved ones deserve the best of you, not what’s left of you.” —Becky Lauridsen, Founder of IOME.
Last updated: January 25, 2022

We have all heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Let me ask you, is your cup empty? Is your cup full? Is your cup broken? If you are practicing self-care on a regular and consistent basis, your loved ones should be getting the best of you, right?

This brings up a good question: What is self-care?

Before we dive into what self-care actually is, it’s helpful to first identify what it’s not.

Self-care vs. self-indulgence

Self-indulgence is characterized by doing or tending to do exactly what one wants, especially when this involves pleasure or idleness, or lacking control. It is the quick fix or the instant pleasure. Things that are easy to do in the moment, but will not likely add value to you in the long run. Common examples of self-indulgence include the following:

  • mindlessly scrolling social media
  • self-medicating, eating or drinking too much
  • watching hours of mindless TV
  • overextending your time and energy
  • staying up too late, hitting snooze in the morning

Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in improving and protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. This includes doing some uncomfortable thing(s). Things that are more challenging in the moment but will add value to you in the long run. Here are some common examples of quality self-care:

  • going to bed early and getting adequate sleep
  • listening to an uplifting podcast
  • stretching or exercising regularly
  • setting healthy boundaries and saying “no”
  • reading personal development books
  • going on consistent date nights with your spouse

Do you see the difference? We can teeter on the edge between the two, but ultimately we have to determine is it adding value, or is it a quick fix?

But not to worry—there is still room for the bubble bath and glass of wine, the binge-watching a great Netflix show just to check out, and/or the drinking a little too much on a Friday night to celebrate a special occasion. As long as your quality self-care is outweighing and outperforming the self-indulgences, you can have both!

In my work as a licensed professional counselor, I would often see the detrimental effects of too much self-indulgence and not enough self-care in my clients who were burnt-out, stressed, overwhelmed, and even showing signs of depression and anxiety. To prevent this from happening to you, start with reflecting on the past week. What did you spend your time on? Did you feel depleted at the end of the week? Did you feel energized? What quality self-care did you do? What did you indulge in? Answer honestly and find areas where you can replace the self-indulgence with quality self-care, and make a plan to implement it this coming week. Taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

Submitted by Becky Lauridsen


IOME is on a mission to help people experience guilt-free self-care for mind, body, and soul! IOME partners with local businesses for self-care, and our therapists offer a place where you can work through what life has thrown at you. For more information, visit the IOME website.