When is "self care" not actually self care?

One of the things I said in this interview last year was that sometimes what we think of as "self care" isn't self care at all, but merely a form of avoidance that ends up increasing anxiety rather than soothing it.

Maybe there's a phone call I need to make that I'm not looking forward to. I've put it off, so now I'm nervous. I decide I need to calm down first, so I decide to meditate, or go for a walk, or take a nice warm bath. Because all of those things are self care, right?


I watched this play out for myself in slow motion last fall with my blog posts, which I was publishing less and less often. I actually had a lot of things to say, and felt good every time I shared something, but writing was was hard and time-consuming. And isn't sleep really important? And spending quality time with my family? Why sacrifice my comfort just to prove I can meet some arbitrary schedule? Doesn't my message card say, "You are loved no matter what"?

Those are all perfectly reasonable arguments. The problem was, they didn't help.

I was waking up unsettled and grumpy nearly every morning, despite my full nights of sleep. And I started getting frustrated and impatient with those family members I was spending time with. Finally, I made the connection: When I don't express my ideas, I suffer.

I don't want to suffer, so I've been making some changes, including the commitment to write and publish a new blog post every day.

I'm not getting as much sleep as I was, but I haven't missed a day, and I'm really, really proud of myself. The writing is getting easier already, I'm treating myself with more gentleness, and I'm being a lot nicer to my family, too. It feels like the best form of self care I could have chosen.

I'm curious to hear what true self care might look like for you in this new year. Are there actions you're ready to take that you know will make a difference? Do you need to add more rest and relaxation to make your level of activity sustainable? If you haven't thought much about it, would you like to?

My 6-week Motivation and Self-Accountability series starts next Wednesday 1/11, and registration is open to anyone looking for tools, inspiration, and structure to make some changes in the coming months. If this feels like something that would be good for you, please join me!