Is it self-care if it’s stressful?

Education, Experiences

Probably not…

Let’s talk self-care. More importantly – is self-care really self-care if it’s stressful?

When you’re clear about what serves you, you don’t have to buy what everyone (experts, gurus, celebrities, influencers, etc.) else is selling. Sounds simple in theory, but I have weekly conversations with clients about self-care. Here are some common questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Does it have to be yoga?
  3. How much time does it take?
  4. How do I know if it’s woking?

I remember a few years ago I was asking myself similar questions, and the word that kept coming up for me was – balance.

But the thing was, I didn’t want to just find balance, I wanted to get self-care down. I wanted to master it, perfect it, and then move on to conquer some other life topic.

…Are you starting to sense the impending anxiety? I know I am just typing this… 

My journey to perfecting self-care began with research. If you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you start with yourself and asking you what YOU needed?”

Ha! You’re so right and an emotional genius, but that was not my experience.


I began my research with a self-selected list of people that seemed to model taking care of themselves while also making impact in the world with the work they were doing: Oprah, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Elizabeth Gilbert, Kris’s Carr, Marie Forleo, and Stephen King. A random, hodgepodge, of authors, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and Oprah (a class all to herself).

My “research” comprised of Googling them, reading their content, streaming online videos/interviews, listening to their podcasts, and reading their books.

Coming out of research mode, I was starting to feel confident that I had a good handle on what Danielle’s perfectly balanced self-care system 2.0 would look like:

  1. Wake up at 5:30am (because that’s what you have to do to be successful) – 3:00am if you’re Dolly Parton. 4:30am if your Glennon Doyle.
  2. Contemplate the universe, mediate, and journal (because you have to be spiritually connected to be in a state of creative flow).
  3. Drink lemon water, make green juice, then coffee (the jury is still out on whether coffee was allowed, but I made a compromise). This is balance Ph, jump start healthy digestion, and the coffee was for survival…Did I mention that this process started at 5:30am in the MORNING?!
  4. Do yoga, then cardio, and weight train.
  5. Now, your creative work begins.  Stephen King writes at least 4hrs a day, Elizabeth Gilbert made a contract with her creative genius that she would commit to writing everyday, even for just a half hour, and while I was making this list Gary Vaynerchuk already published another book. Side note: processing this memory has left me sitting with a blank expression on my face (on cup of coffee number 3) and staring at my computer screen.
  6. Business time.  This step will be the rest of the day.  Map out your to-do list, accomplish it all, eat a healthy meal for lunch that you prepped the Sunday before, and keep working, never stop working while listening to Rihanna sing “Work, work, work, work, work…” (Now I’m stress sweating and becoming mentally exhausted).
  7. Come home, connect with nature, walk your dogs, contemplate your place in the universe some more, drink a cup of Oprah chai tea, read a book (because somehow everyone I researched seemed to be finishing at least one book a week), and go to bed (because you’re waking up in 5hrs to start the day over again).

This process was exhausting, and FOR ME, 100% unrealistic.


Ultimately, issue wasn’t that I wanted to learn from successful people, nor was the issue with wanting to be the best version of myself.  

I was trying so hard to “get it right” that I stopped listening to myself in the process. I was also holding myself to a self-care-standard that had taken these other people years to cultivate.  

There is true value to wanting to learn from people or call on an expert. But no one knows more about you THAN YOU.

I often remind clients that thinking our way through a problem alone isn’t where we find solutions. It’s awareness coupled with action that really helps us know:

This feels good to me right now.

This does not feel good to me right now.

This felt good to me before, but it doesn’t anymore.

Here are the answers to my most frequently asked self-care questions:

  1. What is it? Truly, intentionally, and thoughtfully giving yourSELF the care and attention you need at that given moment in time.
  2. Does it have to be yoga? No.
  3. How much time does it take? Probably more time than you’ll allow when you’re really struggling. It can also be a short as a deep breath or drinking a glass of water.
  4. How do I know if it’s woking? You feel better. Better can be – relief, relaxed, energized, enthusiastic, etc.

4 examples of what self-care looks like for me

  1. Journaling.
  2. Taking a walk, or taking a deep breath outside.
  3. Curling up with a good book.
  4. Meditating (15mins)

What does self-care look like for you? I’d love to know. The best things in life are shared.

  1. Brianunusa says:

    Wow, beautiful site. Thnx …

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