I took a Pilates class this past semester at school, and in our last class our instructor posed us a question: What does self-care mean to us?
I thought about how I’ve used self-care throughout the semester, and most of the examples I came up with involved finding little things to lift my spirits and allowing myself to relax when I felt stressed or overwhelmed. Then I heard my instructor point out a distinction that I had never thought of before: there is a difference between corrective and preventive self-care. Suddenly, I realized that most of my self-care involves coping with problems in a healthy way—but I tend to abandon these practices when I’m not actively facing intense emotions.
Mostly, I’ve been engaging in corrective self-care. I would like to add some of the preventive kind.
Corrective and preventive self-care are both important for our physical and mental well-being. The goal of corrective self-care is to ease pain and difficulties in the moment—for instance, going to bed if you’re feeling sick or tired.
Preventive self-care, on the other hand, might involve going to bed at a decent time each night so you feel energized each day. This type of self-care is intended to maintain a state of wellness in our everyday lives. It involves cultivating healthy habits, listening to your needs, and looking for simple moments of joy. This can include things like:
- eating a nutritious yet satisfying diet
- scheduling some time each week for an enjoyable activity
- keeping a gratitude journal.
The term “self-care” is often associated with stress relief, and while it is certainly helpful for dealing with overwhelming and acute pressure and emotions, it’s helpful to practice self-care in less stressful times as well. As its name implies, preventive self-care is designed to prevent or mitigate pain and distress before it fully develops. Any action that brings comfort and positive feelings in your life could be defined in this way.
What kinds of corrective and preventive self-care do you practice? Where did you learn these methods? And in what ways do you think you might already be practicing preventive self-care without realizing it? Share with us in the comments!