Guilty of Taking Care of Yourself?

taking care of yourself

Guilty as charged!

Last Sunday I felt guilty of taking care of myself.

When I woke up last Sunday I wasn’t feeling that great. The muscles in my upper neck and shoulders were a bunched-up mess, and I felt worse and worse as hours went by. I finally realized I would get a full-blown migraine attack soon, so I popped a triptan to prevent it.

The medication worked but because I felt a little wonky afterwards (perhaps a side-effect of the medication?), I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. I spent the rest of the day sitting on a sofa, munching on candy and watching a couple of movie rentals. (What a decadent way to spend  Sunday night!)

There’s nothing special about this story so far, except the fact that I felt guilty of not doing anything  useful with my time.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt guilty of taking care of myself.

There’s a voice inside my head that says I’m not allowed to take time off unless I’ve taken care of my duties first, and if I do, I should at least be half-dead first. Because I hadn’t ended throwing up in my bathroom, what excuse did I have to skip things on my to do list? Even the movie I chose was a stupid adventure flick more suited for teens than middle-aged aunties!

The function of guilt is to guard you against doing things that are not consistent with your (and your community’s) values. In this case it seems like guilt is doing more harm than good. Fulfilling your “duties” – like in my case writing a blog post or exercising – shouldn’t prevent you from taking care of yourself. Period.

Another voice inside my head reasoned it’s actually my most important duty to take care of myself. “Migraine Brain”, the book I’m currently reading, lists the following basic guidelines for preventing migraines. I wanted to include them because the rules work for everyone, not just migraineurs.

Taking Care of Yourself  – Four Basic Guidelines

  • Regular exercise: 30 minutes every day
  • Sleep: 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Healthy eating: Eating regular healthy meals
  • Having some fun and relaxation in your life

Yes, even fun and relaxation made it  to the list! How many of you can sincerely claim you consistently follow the guidelines in your daily life? What would be the consequence if you did?


When was the last time your felt guilty over taking care of yourself? What did you end up doing?


  1. Marion says:

    Hi Satu, Guilt never does anything good for me. It shuts me down and fills up my mind with useless thoughts.

    It was actually in graduate school when I was very stressed out and a professor said, “You need to stop everything and watch a movie.” Movies do wonders. And the most relaxing ones are easy on the mind and fun.

    I do try to have fun everyday. If I like what I’m doing, I don’t need to use guilt to make myself do it.

    I hope you are feeling much better. 😀

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      Have fun everyday would be a good new motto for me! Thanks, Marion. I think you had a very wise professor. 🙂

      I’m feeling fine, thanks to my new meds. Usually the wonky feeling would’ve lasted days, now I only felt funno on Sunday.

  2. Lori says:

    Yeah, guilt can be tough. I tend to feel guilty relaxing on the weekends because I feel like I should always be doing stuff.

    Have you given more thought to the FBB? We can work on it together as I am a week and a half in!!

    • Satu says:

      Eek! Your comment about FBB being tough actually got me hesitating. If it’s tough for YOU, it’s probably impossible for me! Maybe I should postpone it till I’m stronger. Or not? 🙂

  3. Satu I feel guilty all of the time because all of my friends with kids or even married friends go ON and ON about how lucky I am to have time to myself.


    • Satu says:

      Too much time to yourself is no good thing either!

      It’s kind of funny, because *I* think how lucky my sisters are because they have families: they have their spouses and children and meaning in life…

  4. Aimee says:

    Satu this post has been on my mind since I first read it. The guilt didn’t start until I had my son. I used to feel guilty about leaving to go on a run particularly as the runs got longer or to go out on a rare occasion to catch up with a friend. Then one day I stopped feeling guilty for the most part (I’m human the guilt pangs still hit every now and then). I’m a full time working and stay at home mom. I refuse to be a martyr. I need a little time out each day even if it is just to go for a quick run, wander around Whole Foods or the mall (yes I really do this), or simply sit and read a book. I adore my family, but I am no good to them if I don’t take care of myself.

    I think I’m fairly successful at following the four basic guidelines now. The only thing I’m really lacking is 8 hours of sleep on the nights that I work, but I’m actually ok with that. I do get about 6-8 hours on my nights off.

    Great post Satu.

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