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?