a look inside my daily self-care

Self-care is my job. Which makes sense, because I’m a coach who helps people to like and care for themselves.

I’d also argue that self-care is your job, no matter who you are and how you earn your money. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t your only job, but it does matter. The better you’re able to take care of yourself, the better you can live your life. And the better you live your life, the more you contribute to the world. I very honestly believe that the kinder we are to ourselves, the more kindness we bring to the world.

Self-care is also personal. As personal as it gets, really. This is a look at what my self-care happened to look like on a randomly-chosen weekday in late January.
. . .

7:00 am: My alarm goes off, and I unconsciously snooze it for five minutes.

7:05 am: My alarm sounds again, and, a little more conscious this time, I realize I won’t be getting up right now. I reset it for 7:30.

That’s my self-care today.

7:30 am: The alarm sounds once more, and I know it’s time to get up. I lie in bed for a few more minutes, eyes open, listening. I sit up, have a sip of water from the glass on the bedside table, step onto the wooden floor, stand.

I head to the bathroom, where I take my Zoloft, floss, then brush my teeth. I haven’t always been a regular flosser, but for the past couple months, I’ve been doing pretty well. I’ve been flossing in the morning instead of at night, and that has resulted in a lot more success.

Back to the bedroom to make the bed. I almost never managed to get the bed made on a daily basis until August, when I quit my day job. Since then, I’ve made it most days. It’s self-care that lasts me the whole day, since I now work from home.

That’s my self-care today.

Now to the kitchen, where I take my fermented cod liver oil, wash it down with cold water (because it tastes really bad), then eat a few forkfuls of lacto-fermented sauerkraut. This duo is a mainstay of my self-care practice. I’ve been taking cod liver oil for years and switched to the fermented stuff during the past year. It really seemed to clear up my skin, so I’ve stuck with it, even though it’s more expensive and tastes terrible. The sauerkraut also seems to help my skin and general digestive health

8:00 am: I now head to the couch, where I sit down and swaddle myself in a blanket for ten minutes of meditation. I used to meditate sitting cross-legged, but it hurt my back, so I now sit on the couch with my feet on the floor.

That’s my self-care today.

8:15 am: I don’t feel like it at all, but I know I need to take a walk outside. This isn’t a normal part of my routine, but I’ve been feeling depressed lately, so I’m doing everything I can to counteract that. Getting outdoors more is one of those things. I change into exercise clothes, bundle up, and walk around my neighborhood for about twenty minutes. I try to be mindful of my surroundings by noticing smells, sights and sounds; and I consciously take note of pleasant things I notice. All this is intended to challenge my mind’s depressive patterns of thought. When I get home, I’m glad I got outside. I feel slightly more alive and awake, even if I do still feel depressed.

8:45 am: I’m hungry now, so I have my breakfast and eat it mindfully. Mindful eating is another big part of my self-care. I don’t always manage it, but today I do.

9:00 am: Time to start working. I sit down at our table, wrap a blanket around myself, and start writing. I’m working on a loose script for a talk I’m giving in a couple weeks, and I’m nervous about it. But today is a great chance to work on it, because I don’t have any coaching sessions scheduled. And so I do. I write for a couple hours, taking breaks to go to the bathroom, get myself water, and wash dishes. I try to allow my writing to be really, really imperfect. I know it’s always easier to work on a piece of writing after I have something on the page, so I’m setting the bar low. Any words on the page constitute progress.

That’s my self-care today.


11:00 am: I can’t possibly write anymore right now. Plus, I have a rough draft of the whole talk by now, so it will probably be better for me to return to it and edit tomorrow. I spend some time sending and responding to emails, working on a blog post, and checking in on Twitter.

12:00 pm: I make lunch and then try to focus on enjoying it. I’ve noticed recently that I tend to forget to delight in mundane things like eating lunch when I’m feeling depressed. I intentionally try to appreciate the colors of my food, the tastes, the textures. It feels annoying to take note of these things, but I do it anyway.

12:30 pm: I check in on my To Do list, trying to determine how I’d like my afternoon to look. I remember that I need to make doctor appointments for Mary and myself, and I decide to do that. Making doctor appointments has been on my list for days, and I keep putting it off because it feels less “necessary” than work-related tasks. But getting to the dentist and the doctor are critical to my self-care. I no longer consider them negotiable parts of my life.


1:30 pm: I’m craving some more intense exercise, as I haven’t done anything more than walk for a couple days. Usually I’d go to the gym, but I don’t want to take quite that much time today, so I do about half an hour of a P90X weight video at home. Half an hour feels like just the amount of movement I’m needing right now.

That’s my self-care today.

2:30 pm: It’s now time for what I’ve been . . . not looking forward to . . . today: a focus on my financial self-care. I need to do some bookkeeping and send things over to my accountant, and I’m scared about it. I tell myself that if I do some work on it, in any form, for an hour, I get a break. I take deep breaths, remind myself that I can ask my accountant questions if I need to, and get started. I don’t get far in an hour, but I do have a better idea of what needs to happen. I also feel less worried and nervous.


3:30 pm: Break time! I make myself some tea and fix a little plate of dark chocolate and animal crackers for a snack. I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be delighted by eating animal crackers. I spend a leisurely half hour watching a TV show on Netflix, feeling proud of myself for tackling my bookkeeping, and thoroughly enjoying a nibble on my little donkeys and elephants.
That’s my self-care today.


4:00 pm: I’m now feeling a little more confident, and I decide to really dig into the bookkeeping. I get out the Small Business Start-Up Kit for reference, continue enjoying my tea, and light a candle. Anything I can do to make things more pleasant while I work on something that’s scary for me. I focus on my finances for at least two hours, and I get a lot done. When I emerge from my spreadsheets and numbers, it’s almost dark outside. I decide to put the finances to bed for the night, and my work day, too. I put away my books and calendar and papers, and I check tomorrow’s schedule so I’ll know what sessions are on the docket.

6:30 pm: Now I’m in after-work mode. It’s time to chat about the day; make, eat, and clean up after dinner; and even watch Jeopardy. I also take a shower and change into my pajamas, because I most certainly won’t be going outside again tonight.

9 pm: My brain is pooped, and it needs something fun and soothing to focus on. I would usually wind down by watching a TV show or a movie, but (again with the depression) I’ve been trying to spend more time with books than TV lately. I climb in bed with a Harry Potter book that I’ve already read at least three times. It feels really good to spend time in that make-believe world before drifting off to sleep in the real one.

I still have work to do on my talk, and I don’t have my accounting all sorted out. I feel as if maybe I should have worked more today, like possibly putting self-care before work will lead to me falling behind. I try to maintain my faith that I’m doing the right thing. I try to remember that work and life aren’t going to feel perfect, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing anything wrong.

That’s my self-care today.

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