I deliberately didn’t title this post with self-care, solely because it’s been an overused phrase. In fact, I think it’s so overused that it’s almost lost its meaning. Self-care can involve putting on a face mask or using a body scrub in a tub, but it’s not the face mask and it’s not the body scrub. It’s the act, the purpose, the meaning behind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and what you’re looking to gain from it.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I actually take care of myself. Like actually what I do to make sure I’m cared for. I think it was last year, but I read something somewhere about how you “mother yourself” and it’s really stuck with me. I have definitely gone through periods of time in my adult life where I was definitely not taking care of myself. Maybe it’s because I am a mom now, I know I would never not take care of my child… so why would I treat myself any differently? I deserve good care– and it’s not just going to magically unfold for me.

Also as I’m writing this I’m realizing that a lot of it is so basic and so straightforward. Maybe if you’ve never experienced anxiety or difficult period where it’s hard to actually take care of yourself, you may read this and think, “duh,” but trust me, sometimes the most basic things are what fall through the cracks first. I was inspired to write this because after having gone through something pretty hard recently, I was surprised to see how resilient I was and how, five years ago, it would have caused me to completely unravel. I think I’ve been taking good care of myself and thought what’s helped me might help someone else. I’m a naturally highly anxious person who is also in recovery from perfectionism, yet, I am in a much better place today than I was five years ago, in large part because I figured out how to truly take care of myself versus just moving through life trying to survive.


Probably the thing that I struggle with the most when it comes to taking care of myself is scheduling and going to doctor’s appointments. The dentist. The OBGYN. Regular check ups. The dermatologist. I’ve gone… years at times avoiding all of the above. It’s all rooted in fear– I’m afraid something will be wrong, I’m afraid to go somewhere new (and I’ve moved a lot), I’m afraid of what the appointment will entail. If I just don’t make an appointment, I don’t have to suffer through it. But, obviously, avoidance isn’t a healthy approach to life.

I’ve come up with a couple of tricks for myself. I always, always make the next appointment before I leave the office. Once it’s on the calendar, it’s on the calendar and because it’s so far in advance, I am able to really make plans to not miss it. (Very occasionally I have to move it, but I always force myself to reschedule instead of cancel.)

I also do a lot of research when finding doctors. Especially since I’m not from here, I reach out to friends and family in the area and check our town’s Facebook group for additional recommendations. I’ve found that people are always quick to share doctors who are patient and especially kind with anxious patients!! 🙌🏻 I also am upfront about my anxiety when I meet the doctor for the first time and it helps, too.

I think it’s worth noting that while I generally get a little anxious before an appointment and feel stressed leading up to it, overall, I’m so much more at ease about my health. Turns out avoiding the doctor IS stressful– and even more stressful– than just going. I try to remind myself that the peace of mind long-term is so much better than the temporary anxiety around appointments.

(And if there was something wrong, wouldn’t I want to know as soon as possible so we could address it? Yes. Plus, now I have the arsenal of doctors to reach out to if/when I need to.)


This is another really basic one and it also sounds a little vain, too, but it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself. I know I don’t feel like “me” if my hair isn’t clean and my legs aren’t shaved. I can go without makeup and I can wear sweatpants and still feel like myself, but dirty hair and prickly legs are the “lines” I draw. I know this about myself and sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed or feel like I don’t have time to properly blow dry my hair, I remember how I will feel better instantly the minute my hair is done and my legs are shaved. Sometimes I can even use this as a pick me up. Like if everything else is going wrong and if everything else is out of my control, I always know I can hop in the shower and wash my hair and feel better.

Maybe for you it’s putting on a coat of mascara or wearing an outfit that makes you feel amazing… Take note of what works best for you on good days so when the bad days pop up, you can execute on the one or two basic things that you know will help.


Okay, this is my best tip that I’ve only recently discovered. There are certain things that I need to do to “keep house,” that I absolutely hate. For example, I hate sweeping/vacuuming and I hate emptying the dishwasher. I have no problem folding laundry, picking up Jack’s toys, wiping down counters, fluffing pillows….. but I hate emptying the dishwasher and sweeping. Both, naturally, have to be done daily. I had tried for a while to like overly hype myself up to do it, but it didn’t work. And sulking or dreading a task didn’t make it easier, either.

Until one day I just decided to consider them neutral tasks. It’s kind of hard to explain and it sounds weird, but I just decided one day. It’s not something I need to love and it’s not something I need to even like– I just have to do it. Once I took out the pressure of trying to hype myself up about it, it allowed me to kind of just find a place in my mind where I felt totally neutral about it. It’s not a perfect system– there are occasional days when I still wish the dishwasher would magically unload itself– but for the most part I really do feel neutral about those tasks I used to hate. The dishwasher is no longer sitting clean with dishes piling up in the sink waiting for it to be emptied and I sweep the floor every morning quickly and painlessly.


One thing I’m really passionate about is hobbies. I think it’s becoming a lost art and, yet, I think it’s a critical part of being a human. 1) We spend so much time watching television and scrolling on the internet and just mindlessly watching things instead of doing things. 2) We’re also losing a sense of community (generally speaking). And 3) I think we have been deeply programmed to turn everything we like into some kind of business. At some point hobbies became side hustles.

But for me, having hobbies outside of work with absolutely zero pressure attached to it, is one of my favorite ways to take care of myself. It gets me off my phone. Stops me from doom scrolling and watching the news. I create physical, tangible objects. I use my hands! All of these things have been so beneficial for my mental health. (I actually wrote about hobbies right before the pandemic and it was truly one of my saving graces during such trying times.)


I’m a broken record about this, but movement is key for me. I’m really careful to say movement instead of working out, though a lot of times for me movement does entail a workout. I just need to move. It can be as simple as going for a walk with a friend or even wandering the aisles of Target (really!) or getting in a great sweat on my Peloton at home or going to my favorite barre class at the gym. I am better when I get up and MOVE. I know there is science behind it, but I don’t really need to read it to know how I feel with– and without– movement in my life.


When I first moved to NYC, I had this period of depression that kind of crept up on me. I had experienced depression before, but this felt similar and even still a little different. I felt depressed even though I couldn’t pinpoint why I was feeling that way or exactly how it was different from depression before. I went to my doctor to ask what I should do and she was like, “Look it may be depression and we can talk about next steps for that, but I think you’re probably deficient in Vitamin D.” It was March and I had just spent a whole winter in NYC hibernating inside and when I was outside I was bundled up head to toe. (And also working at the time at a job where I wouldn’t really leave the office until after the sun had set.) I’m not saying I’m a doctor here and you should obviously talk to yours, but it really left an impression on me. Every winter since, I’ve made a huge effort to spend time outside every day.

Generally speaking, I know I feel the best on bright sunny days (personally). I have friends who thrive on gloomy days and friends who come to life in the colder months and hibernate inside of air conditioned buildings during the summer. I know what I need and I try to get as much of it as I can. In the summer, it’s way easier for me to get in outdoor time. During the winter though, I make sure every shade is pulled up in our house to let in as much natural light as possible. I try to spend at least 15-20 minutes outside, even if it’s just in five minute increments. I schedule outdoor activities as much as possible (walks with friends, pickleball, shopping in places where you walk outside like our Main Street), etc. On days when we can’t get outside, for whatever reason, I feel it and I’m reminded just how important it is for me to get out.


Probably the hardest thing for me to do on my “own” is limiting screen time. Between my job and the addictive qualities of various apps, I feel like it’s hard for me to break away from screens. I can admit that! (And admitting it is the first step right?!) When I’m feeling at my worst, I am also almost always spending too much time online. Sometimes just spending too much time online makes me feel bad and sometimes I feel bad and then turn to the internet. It’s both the chicken and the egg for me.

Because of this, I try my best to both limit how much time I spend online (even with work) and also try to avoid turning to TikTok to scroll mindlessly when I already feel bad. Replacing that desire to get online helps– I know I can read a book, I usually have a project or two around the house that could use my attention, and I can always work on a needlepoint project. (See: hobbies!)


No. I’m far from it. The goal for me here isn’t to be perfect or to even think that perfection is attainable or the goal at all. Instead, I’ve found that when I’m aware of how I’m feeling and what I’m doing (both when I feel good and feel less than good), I am able to pinpoint some areas in my life where I could be better.

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Loved this post! The topic is so important especially to those who have been raised to think about others and not listen to their own feelings. I have learnt to understand only recently that taking care of yourself is not selfish (nor vain) but very important also for the wellbeing of the people around us. And as you point out, there are different levels (clean hair, health checks, hobbies, limiting screen time etc). In a way I wish I would have known to take good care of myself much younger but even though I feel I’m still learning at least I have started the process of finding what is good for me. Good luck with that to all those who wish to take better care of themselves!


Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing your tips. Related to limiting screen time – I started a “no-TV” January (instead of a dry January) because I find myself hibernating in the cold months and consequently, losing the joy of “doing things”. Now, I’m finding more joy in simple self care steps and generally feel less anxious!


Hi Carly! Great tips- I was wondering if you could possibly share how you built this tool-box to take care of yourself? (i.e. trial and error, through the practice of mindfulness, suggestions from a therapist/family/friend or just a mix) Thanks!


A little mix of everything. I will say, it mostly started after a medical crisis forced me to start thinking about my health in a more tangible way. I started off small with getting enough sleep and going to the gym! Once I started moving consistently, I was able to think clearer!


I loved this post! Something that I am working on in therapy is how I take care of myself through both scheduled things (my tendency) and unscheduled things when I need a moment. Every session my therapist asks me what I am doing to take care of myself and having to tell someone that those things are always planned events (workout class, happy hour, etc.) has made me realize how rarely I allow myself 20 minutes in the middle of the day if I need it, whether its to give myself a blowout or sit on the couch with zero responsibilities for those 20 minutes. Because I need both the planned and the unplanned. Thanks for sharing!


Always a big fan of your openness and honesty around anxiety! I started reading your blog when I was around 13 years old and remember how much of an impression the way you talked about anxiety had on me. I didn’t understand it as much then, but as a 23 year old now, I really relate to not just your struggles but also the ways you’ve overcome things. Really inspiring to see you take care of yourself and now also take care of another human, and show that anxiety can’t stop you from living a great life. Sending you love!


I appreciate this post more than you know! Even if these things are “basic” and we should all be doing them without thinking, the insight serves as a good reminder – thank you for your willingness to share.

Taylor Schenker

Yess! Someone recently asked me what I was doing for self care – I said taxes and getting my finances together. She was so surprised but self care is not just face masks! I too feel so much better when I move my body, limit screentime, and check nagging tasks off my to do list.


Long time reader, first time responder! I really liked this post. My kids are grown and I’m just now starting to realize the importance of taking care of myself. I connected with everything you listed, especially movement and sunshine. *So* important.


i really relate to & appreciate this post! first, i really admire your openness to talk about anxiety. this might be too personal actually, but would you ever tell us more about being in recovery from perfectionism? because 🤯 anyway, thank you for sharing!


Amen to the hair and prickly legs :). Those are two things I need to upkeep as well. Our house somehow all came down COVID after three years of dodging it and I still blew out my hair (thanks to the Dyson airwrap) to make myself feel a little bit better.


If you hate sweeping or vacuuming, I couldn’t more highly recommend a robot vacuum. We have a Robock Q5+ for each floor of our house and it’s a gamechanger.


I absolutely love your posts and read them everyday. I am a young 80 year old.
I have purchased things that you have written about, new places to shop, etc. today was a perfect post. Just before reading your post today, I had a video appointment with my doctor about anxiety and depression. I feel like I connect with you on so many levels. Thank you for being here, Carly


Great post. You’re doing a wise thing in engaging in such self awareness at during a challenging time – first child! That alone will take you far. Most of us just power through and don’t stop to even wonder if there could be solutions. The easy to implement tips are super helpful, too. I’ve learned to be all about low bars. They help me keep going!


I just watched your Instagram story regarding this post and just wanted to say “thank you” for clicking publish! People need you and your (honest) voice.

Lisa Mari

What a great post! Thank you for hitting publish after all and sharing this list with all of us! It really resonates with me!

Lauren Hanks

Really great reminder to give ourselves grace. Taking care of ourselves is always a work in progress and done with intentional, small steps each day.


Love this post. As a fellow anxious person, I see the biggest difference when screen time is limited. Easier said than done, so I usually have to just delete the apps for periods of time 😂 thanks for sharing Carly. Love the peeks into everyday life.


Adulting. It’s called “adulting”. It slaps all of us in the face at different times in our lives….social media can influence that for sure. I’m 61….and just now realizing how important it is to “take car of myself”….that said….you hit the nail on the head. Make every day count in whatever way helps you to live a better life. Nobody can “influence” that movement better than you. Do it.

Loren Provins

It also hit me a few weeks ago that I had been neglecting myself in many ways, so this post truly came at the perfect time. I relate so much with all of these, but especially the doctor one. Zocdoc has been so helpful for me in finding new doctors in my network, and I’ve definitely started telling them upfront, listen my blood pressure is probably reading as high because being here is very stressful for me, hahaha and that has helped greatly in setting me up for success at the appointment


I love this post and relate so much. I really struggle with dr appts. I start feeling the dread a month before. I figured I was the only one. I recently moved and was stressing out today trying to find a new dentist and just thought how can this make me feel so awful. Ugh it seems so easy for everyone else lol


Carly – I absolutely love this post and its important content. You are right – taking care of yourself is so basic yet often overlooked. These points are well taken and apply wonderfully to nearly any lifestyle or goal. Thank you for sharing.


Thank you for sharing this. The doctor’s appointment really resonated with me since I struggle with it, especially with OBGYN. Like you said, I’m always afraid that something will be wrong. Been thinking about this lately, so I’ll take it as a sign to finally schedule an appointment. Wish me luck!


Hi everyone, I feel it needs to be said that a critical part of mental health is getting medication to correct chemical and hormonal imbalances, especially postpartum. Talk therapy is life saving as well. Please do not feel exercise, sunshine and hobbies can fix medical issues. Everything has its place but you are not a failure/there is nothing wrong with you if you need medication and therapy IN ADDITION to lifestyle choices. Hobbies won’t fix diabetes, just like they won’t fix bipolar depression or anxiety. I know your intention with this post is positive and to be helpful. Cheers.


Excellent point re: medications. Meds are a tool for mental health-just like having a therapist and a exercise plan.

Vanessa @ Living in Steil

This is such a great post! I totally agree with all of this as it relates to taking care of yourself. I’m a millennial family caregiver who recently returned to my equestrian roots. Having a hobby that bring me so much joy is my sanity break and has brought back a piece of me that’s been on a long hiatus. I kind of feel whole again, and being around horses has made me a better caregiver, too.


Can relate to so many of these points! Glad to feel I’m not alone in avoiding dr. appts and needing clean hair to feel like myself. Thanks for sharing your tips!


I really appreciate this post! You’re right—“self-care” has become so overused that I often roll my eyes when I hear it—but these are such wonderful tips that actually lead to something practical and fulfilling. I have the same feelings about unloading the dishwasher!! Can’t wait to try the neutral feeling. Thank you for sharing!


Loove this so much, Carly!! We always say that you need to fuel your spirit, in addition to just taking care of yourself. Love this quote so much:

“Because I figured out how to truly take care of myself versus just moving through life trying to survive.”

Thank you for sharing your heart on the internet!
xx, -Annie from


Thank you for writing this one Carly! I can really relate to the doctor’s thing. White coat syndrome, anyone? But you are right, this is part of taking care of yourself too. And please tell me it gets easier the more you do it?! 🙂 I appreciate the tips you shared and what you found helpful!
I love the idea about neutral tasks too. I realized recently that the dishwasher might be my favorite appliance because I used to spend too much time washing dishes by hand and now it’s like 5 minutes for the stuff that doesn’t go in there. I’m so grateful!! I do procrastinate emptying the dish washer though but also found that if I just take the time to do it all at once and finish it, it takes a few minutes only versus taking one plate out and a spoon out here and there throughout the day. (That makes me hate it more!) This applies to folding laundry too lol


Hi Carly,
I too spend more time scrolling than I’d like to and know this impacts my mood. However, despite wanting to reduce/ limit this time, I really struggle to follow through! Do you have any strategies that help you?


I’m sure Carly has tools to share but I have the Freedom app and I cannot go on social media from 7am-8pm. It is blocked (I set it) and it has helped my mind be so much clearer. Obviously influencers couldn’t have it blocked but I’m a normal gal who needed the temptation to scroll away.


Thank you for sharing this, Carly! Can definitely relate – especially with going to the doctors (why am I like this!). Great reminder to that it’s so important to take care of myself, particularly during the winter months. 🙂


Love this and as a full time working mom with a lotta kids, something I’m focusing on too in 2023

Golnaz Iman

Love reading your post and I could relate to your points
Keep up a good work and to me you are Perfect


I love everything you said here, especially “classifying household tasks as neutral” – I’m curious if you’ve listened to this podcast episode on “Messiness is not a Moral Failing” – maybe you have, since it basically makes the same point, but if not, I highly recommend! It really helped me reframe how I think about household tasks and not feeling like I’d messed up if I didn’t complete something.


There’s hope! I hate vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher too. But my 6 year old now unloads the dishwasher and we invested in a good robot vacuum we run daily. These two small things really have made a little more margin to do things I don’t neutrally despise 😉 so much.


Carly, I enjoyed this post and am so inspired. It is such a journey to organize these ideas, gain perspective and make changes. My husband and I are having our first baby, discussing all of these types of matters on a regular basis trying to figure out how to balance our lives before baby arrives.

On another note, would you be willing to write an article on how you stay organized? Your daily or weekly organization, how you create and maintain schedules, etc.


Your point about hobbies is spot on! Especially after becoming a mom, I have noticed that I spend very little time on the hobbies I loved. I used to create, and I miss it. Thanks for the reminder 🙂


I really appreciated this, Carly (especially when, yes, I think self-care is shifting to be a bit more capitalistic than it needs to be). I feel as though you’ve been my wise older sister since I was in the eighth grade, looking at how you planned your week in college. Some things never change 🙂 Thanks for providing a voice of reason, always!