About 4 months ago, on one of my weekend link lists, I shared a post called, This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake. It was written by Brianna Wiest, and when it came across my feed again this week, I wanted to give it more attention. If you haven’t had the chance yet, it’s worth a read. I’ll quote a bit here so you can get a sense of what it’s about:

“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.

It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.”

When I read the essay in early December, I remember I couldn’t even get through the whole thing. It felt like a lecture, like it was adding a big weight to my shoulders, and adding a dozens of difficult tasks to my already overwhelming list. I remember feeling my face fall as I read, and heaving a big sigh of discouragement.

But when I read it a couple of days ago, it felt totally different. It felt like motivation. Like a good coach. As I read it, I kept having of flashes of how good it feels to mark a task-I’ve-put-off-for-a-long-time off my list. And I remembered the last Admin Day I had with Ben Blair — one of those days where we tackle a chunk of our never-ending family administration items, like insurance questions and finding a new music teacher and the mail that can’t be dealt with quickly. For me, facing that kind of stuff, and making even a little headway, is the BEST feeling. And reading this essay got me motivated to schedule another Admin Day as soon as possible.

It occurred to me that maybe the essay can act as a personal litmus test to help me gauge what kind of self care I really need. If I can’t bear to read the essay, then maybe the best thing for me really is the indulgent sort of self-care — like bubble baths and binge-watching. And if the essay feels like encouragement, it means it’s a smart time to face a good chunk of hard things.

What are your thoughts on self-care? Are you the type of person to feel guilty about taking a little alone time? Or do you find you use “self-care” as a good excuse to over indulge as often as possible? Have you had a chance to read the essay? If yes, did you have a strong response to it? Or was it like: duh. Do you have a favorite self-care indulgence? A type of food? A book? A show? What’s the last thing you did that felt like you were taking care of yourself in some way?

P.S. — Paper wrapped votives.