Self Care for the Guilt-ridden

I get guilt. I’m supersonically Catholic. I once cried after hitting an already dead possum on the highway. I’m a flesh-and-blood American woman who is painfully aware of her single, self-sufficient, totally-rad lifestyle she maintains (especially when compared to her parents’ struggles at her age). I get guilt.

“Self care” is not all the rage where I come from, how I was raised. Every day you work and you work. Then, you break your back for your family and on the day your back is not broken, you done been spoiled and you should go do something so that your back is, consequently (you guessed it), broken. I’m from Michigan, and what do we consider a vacation? A road trip to OTHER PARTS OF MICHIGAN (though if you’ve ever seen Lake Michigan up close, you might not get it). Beauty aside; it’s full-time frugality.

I just moved to the NYC-area about a year ago and it’s been, among many things, illuminating. Folks here are amazing. Not that many suburban Michiganders can’t compete (it’s a different world over there, to be honest) but y’all out here are just a different breed. Here, you don’t need to jump through the different myriad personality-hoops to justify being bossy. No one looks you up and down and asks you, “But, why …?” when you want to invent something, run a company, start a blog. Speak your mind and your heart and lift others up.

The one thing that I have noticed about these east-coasters, however, is that they really take care of themselves — their minds, bodies, hearts. Boxing class and Pure Barre and church meetings and therapy and Well+Good email subscriptions and Camper shoes. Something that I never saw en masse in my entire life! Women, specifically, are bossy and BALLIN’. It has become a strategic imperative that I learn how to “self care” in order to compete. Isn’t that nuts? That if you don’t take care of yourself, you are left behind and can’t hang.

Burnout is real, and those who are here to really do the dang thing know that it’s all about the long game. Endurance. And how do you endure? By tending to your whole-self-garden. You can’t grow intelligence-crops in a field full of shame-sadness dust! (My apologies to anyone who actually grew up on a farm).

So for those of us who will only take care of ourselves when it becomes MANDATORY, here are some ways to dip your toes into the Self Care Pool.

A gratitude journal (corny but effective!)

Get a nice little notebook and keep it by your bed. Before you go to sleep, write down just a few nice things that happened that day. I personally started falling asleep easier — and waking up happier — when I’d reflected on the positive (even if it was small). And with that being said…


I’ve stopped doing it about 30 minutes before bed and honestly, it’s one of the most important things I’ve integrated into my nightly routine. Besides just sort of having an intuition behind it (I think we can all benefit from a little less screen time), read the science to back it up (scroll to reason #3). The lights mess with your melatonin, y’all. That sweet elixir of circadian rhythm! Keep it precious, keep it pure.

Donate to a political campaign that you care about

Because what’s better self care than caring for the future of our nation?

Image: Teen Vogue

This amazing gal murmured “you got this” to herself before a routine and the world lost it’s banans. Often we don’t think of just how poorly we speak to ourselves until we’re caught in a vice grip of anxiety and depression. But a world-class athlete like Laurie Hernandez knows what you should start doing: BELIEVING IN YOURSELF FIRST DUH. Whisper, “You’ve got this” to yourself every now and then. You’d be surprised how well it works.

Buy some lipstick

I don’t know — just do it. Maybe it’ll make you feel nice. It makes me feel nice.

Get a nice card and mail it to someone you miss/care about

Maybe a card with some condiments on it. And then on the inside write “I relish your friendship.” (Tweet at me if you want more/betterer pun options.) Because sharing is [self]caring.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. When you’re caught up living the sour Guilt Life, you’ve got to start small in order to start swinging towards full Self Care Mode. If I can do it, you can, too. Why? Because you’ve got this.

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