How I Get Over the Guilt of Taking Time for Self-Care

woman self care
credit: Samson Katt

As a startup founder, I feel incredibly guilty any time I need to take a break to rest.

There are so many things to do all the time, my daily list of tasks often feels endless. So when I need to take time for self-care, I often feel conflicted over what to do, how long to take off, and more.

It’s ironic because I spend most of my day posting inspirational quotes to Instagram and Pinterest about the need to put yourself first. And I’m constantly writing about celebrities’ self-care routines and praising them for setting such great examples. But when push comes to shove, I find it difficult to practice what I preach.

As someone with multiple mental health issues, my energy level is constantly in flux. I often require much more sleep than my peers.

But our society places so much value on the traditional 9-5 workday, that taking a break in the middle to rest just feels wrong. Like I’m doing something I shouldn’t.

My therapist says that guilt is a wasted emotion and he’s right. In my life, guilt is a waste of time, which is something I just can’t afford right now.

So, whenever I need to rest, I remind myself that I will be so much more powerful, so much more productive after my break. Because without rest, I truly would not survive the day.

I look at other startup founders and I realize I’m not like most of them. I listen to their stories of slaving away 24/7 and wish that could be me.

But life is not a sprint, it’s not even a race. My goal is sustainability, no matter how slow-going it can be day to day.

I guess, in the end, the secret to dealing with the guilt of self-care is this: You need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Your guilt is not going to go away overnight. But you need to realize that and accept it for what it is.

And yeah, that might not always make you feel great at first. But in the end, you have to do what’s best for you, which can often be the hardest thing of all.

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.