Self-comfort vs Self-care

Do you know the difference between self-comfort and self-care? Are you wondering if what you have been identifying as “self-care” may actually be harming you? Read below to learn more.


Self-comfort can be thought of as turning to something in a non-conscious manner, where we may be seeking to numb ourselves out, “veg out,” or otherwise seek escape from the day’s stressors. Activities where there is an avoidance or “escape” motivation tend to be more mindless.

Common examples can include endless scrolling on social media, binge watching TV, spending excessive time shopping, turning to food in an attempt to soothe feelings, and getting lost in romance novels. The focus tends to be on avoiding feelings and “checking out” from reality.

An individual may temporarily feel “good” but engagement with this activity can often be detrimental to their health in the long term either via direct effects or due to the opportunity cost, whereby time allocated to self-comfort oriented activities takes away from the possibility of taking on other health improving behaviours.


Self-care can be conceptualized as an intentional practice of a collection of habits that enhance an individual’s sense of well-being. Another aspect of self-care is that it doesn’t always feel “good” in the sense that there is an element of discipline or willingness to take action required and that we may not always “feel” like doing it.

In a way, self-care oriented activities can be thought of as “daily investments” we make in our health–whether physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, or otherwise. With consistent and frequent practice, the benefits from these activities are realized and “compound” over time. Common examples of self-care across the different dimensions of health are listed below.

Physical Health

  • Resistance exercise
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Flexibility and mobility work
  • Healthy nutritional habits
  • Regular sleep schedule
  • Adherence to medications as directed by your physician

Mental & Emotional Health

  • Journaling about feelings
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Bibliotherapy

Social Health

  • Connection with personal supports
  • Peer support meetings
  • Group oriented hobbies
  • Volunteering

Spiritual Health

  • Spending time in nature
  • Engaging in creative outlets
  • Service work or attendance at a faith based congregation
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Reading about topics that really resonate with you

Closing remarks

What does self-care look like for you? How do you support your health across the various domains; physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual? Are there certain areas that you feel you are missing? How can you help yourself be more consistent with whichever practices work for you?