Why We Should Be Practicing Soul-Care, Not Just Self-Care

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 

Everyone knows the importance of self-care. The concept, which involves taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, do your job, and support friends and loved ones is imperative to your overall well being. It is essential to living a long and fulfilled life. But there is more to self-care than wine spritzers and bubble baths — i.e., there is more to your mind, body, and being than nutrition, exercise, and fitness, and that is where soul-care comes in.

“Self-care is care of your physical body, but soul-care is me asking ‘How are you?’ and waiting long enough for your recent highs and lows to respond with a reflection of your insides,” Sarah Jakes Roberts — the author of “Woman Evolve: Break Up with Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life” — tells Scary Mommy. It is listening to your feelings and responding carefully and thoughtfully. It is knowing your limitations and nurturing your needs. And it is asking yourself tough questions: the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys.

What is soul-care — and how does it differ from self-care?

Soul-care is the act of caring for and getting in touch with your spiritual and emotional self. Or, to put it another way, soul-care is a general restoration of your mental wellbeing. Those who practice soul-care take time to reflect inward. They make both a space and place to care for themselves. Those who practice soul-care nurture their inner child, loving him or her as they would their own little ones. And a major aspect of soul-care involves asking yourself tough questions. Those who practice this form of self-compassion and acceptance don’t just resign to their fate; they explore their feelings and get to the root of the problem.

Self-care, on the other hand, is any thing you do to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is the act of taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.

How can we practice soul-care?

Many types of self-care are object- or action-based. Some individuals practice yoga or meditate; others work out or go on a long walk or run, and some individuals “treat” themselves to physical indulgences like massages, manicures, spa treatments, and pedicures. But Roberts tells Scary Mommy that soul-care involves looking inward. “While self-care is going to get your nails done, soul-care is asking yourself when you started biting your nails — and why,” Roberts says. It is understanding yourself at a deeper level.

Why is soul-care so important?

While self-care is of the utmost importance, it’s all for naught if you’re not practicing soul-care. “Self-care is great for making sure you’re showing up in the world as your best,” Roberts tells Scary Mommy. “But soul-care allows you take a moment to determine how much you’ve grown in patience, knowledge, and empathy. It even allows you to examine opportunities where you could be doing better.”

Where should we start when it comes to practicing soul-care?

If you’re looking for a way to better care for yourself, mentally and emotionally, soul-care may be the answer. After all, you need to feed not just your mind and body but your spirit. But understanding and navigating the intricacies of soul-care can be tricky, particularly if you are new to the practice. Understanding your true feelings can be hard. So how can you incorporate soul-care into your life?

Well, you can read literature on soul-care; many books can help walk you through the process. Meditative practices can help you look inward, particularly guided meditations, and you can work with a life coach or therapist. Faith-based leaders are also great for general guidance, oversight, and support. Soul-care looks different for different people.

However it looks for you, in your quest to be your best self, don’t forget to do the work on your soul — because true happiness begins within.

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