I am bad at self care

September 15, 2017

Saying I’m bad at self care might be generous. Absolutely awful is probably much more accurate.

I struggle with nearly all aspects of self care, from taking the time to work out (because I’m lazy) to getting massages.  The one thing I do well is ensure I sleep enough on a nightly basis.  I am really an 8 hours a night sort of girl and while I can get through several days on less, you’d better believe I am taking the time to catch up on those precious zzz’s as soon as I can.

Sometimes I just feel so damn guilty taking the time away from the things I should be doing for what feels like really frivolous and optional activities.  Do I really need to be reading this fun book when I could instead be reading the one from scrum?  2 hours for a massage seems excessive, maybe if I get a foot massage for an hour instead, I can respond to emails and not feel like I’m wasting time.

Every entrepreneur and freelancer I know feels this way, especially when money is tight.  I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand right now and I arrived with a chunk of money set aside specifically for massages.  I know myself well enough to know I won’t go for massages unless I have a separate budget for fun things that has to be spent on fun things (massages, pens, ice cream etc.)

As I lay on the massage bed yesterday, I spent the first 30 minutes fretting about all the other things I could (should?) be doing at that moment and composing emails in my head.  What a waste.  I finally relaxed and enjoyed the massage but the guilt of taking the time to self care led to my staying up late working on some pitches.

And then this morning I was chatting with a friend and reassuring her that she needed to take the time to care for herself, that it’s okay to sleep in sometimes and to take a day off when you’re not feeling well. I know this intellectually but I have a hard time with it myself.  There are so many reasons we need to take the time for self-care, not the least being that we will do better work if we are well rested, well fed and physically healthy.

That’s right.  As a wise man once said…

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

So here are the arguments my inner voice likes to hit me with when I try to prioritize self care and how I’m working on shutting it up.

But, you haven’t finished task #53 today!

Is it urgent? Can it wait until tomorrow? Great. I’m going to sleep then and if you try to keep me up fretting, I will sleep in tomorrow.  You know I will. And if you wake me up early, I’ll take a nap!

A 2 hour Thai massage?  Didn’t you just have one the other day?  Why don’t you get a foot massage and respond to some emails instead?

I’d love to. Are you going to give me a pass to spend $200/hour on a Thai massage in a few weeks instead?


Yea, that’s what I thought. Think about it this way…these two hour massages are what enable me to sit at my laptop for several hours a day in the hard chairs at coffeeshops.  No massage means a lot less coffee shop time.

Stop reading fun books like “American Gods”.  You should be reading “Tribes” or “Pivot” or that Scrum book instead?

I read “Pivot” yesterday. Today is a fun book.

Ohmygod.  Look at your inbox.  You can’t go have sushi with friends.  You should be trying for inbox 0.

Hahaha.  I have around 500 emails to deal with.  Inbox 0 isn’t happening today. Plus, my friend is going to tell me more about the really cool article she’s working on so maybe I’ll get inspired to write too.  See…productivity.

Why are you writing this blog post?  You owe your client 2 articles in 2 days and you haven’t even started researching one of them!

It’s called warm-up writing.  Chill, inner voice.  Client work is up next and I promise I’ll finish one of those articles today.

And so on.  It’s not perfect and my inner critic is a real bitch.  I find ignoring her impossible but negotiating with her seems to work better.  It’s led to more and more self care time in the last few years, which has lead to a happier and more productive Hobo.


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