Last month, I started off my Self Care series with this post on why it was so important to keep refilling your “cup.” Since then I have been deciding what aspect of self to address next, and it came to me accidentally through a friend of mine on Facebook asking the very important question of, “What’s the difference between self care and self indulgence, where does one draw the line?” And it really got me thinking, where do we draw the line between the two? And it turn sparked the inspiration for this post (so thanks Nick if you’re reading!).

When we’re feeling drained, tired or empty, we tend to choose one of these two options. The line that divides the two is a fine one, but it makes a big difference to your overall health which one you continually choose. The biggest differences I find between the two are as follows:


  • You feel better during and afterwards too
  • It nourishes you in some way, whether it mentally or physically
  • It adds to your “cup” rather than depleting it further
  • It benefits you for the long term


  • You feel worse afterwards
  • It affects your mental or physical health in a negative way
  • Your “cup” feels just as empty, if not emptier afterwards
  • It’s a short term solution for a long term problem, and does not contribute to you any further than in that current moment that you are enjoying it

Picture this example: You’ve been working long hours and your job has been particularly stressful this week. You’re tired, you’re run down and you’ve been having erratic mood swings. You know you’re in need of some rest and relaxation.

How do you choose to deal with it come the weekend?

a) You go out, binge drink and try to forget your week. You have a really great time on the night, but wake up the next day with an awful hangover that you spend the day trying to recover from. – This is self indulgence.

b) You take some time out for yourself. You buy yourself some delicious and nourishing food, get a good night’s rest and do something nice for yourself on Saturday like meeting a friend for breakfast or simply heading out for a walk to get some sunshine and be amongst nature. – This is self care.

Here is another example: You’re feeling life is a bit out of control and a bit of a shambles. Everything feels all over the place and you’re stressed out about it all.

How do you choose to deal with it?

a) You soend money you don’t really have on expensive things to try and make yourself feel better. It feels good when you do it, but you feel guilty afterwards about the purchase. – This is self indulgence.

b) You take some time to make yourself a cup of tea/coffee/glass of delicious red wine, sit down, breathe and then come up with a game plan of how to tackle your problems. You then follow it up with something that makes you feel good and relaxed, like yoga, taking a bath or reading a book. – This is self care.

While it’s ok to not always choose the Self Care option (because sometimes you simply want to “treat yo’self” and that’s completely understandable too), if you find that you are gravitating towards Self Indulgence more often than not, it might be time to just pause and reflect on why this might be so. What voids are you trying to fill, or what issues might you be trying to avoid coming to terms with by choosing Self Indulgence? It can be hard to reflect on, but ultimately it will help you to work towards better health, both emotionally and physically. 

As always, if you need someone to chat to you, or you need some support to help you on your path to better health, please feel free to send me an email at I am available for face to face clinic consultations if you’re local to the North Shore/Northern Beaches or Skype consultations if you’re not :).