Honoring your needs without feeling guilty

05/24/2010 10:56 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What do you enjoy doing that you feel guilty doing because it's such a decadent luxury?

My argument is that you should not feel guilty and are not being selfish, but, taking such good care of yourself that it feels uncomfortable, and you misinterpret that discomfort as guilt, selfishness or something bad.

Often, the things that bring us happiness and don't do anything for anyone else are the things we postpone, procrastinate or avoid all together because we think we are selfish for doing them. I feel selfish enjoying weekly tennis lessons even though I have so much fun and smile the entire time! I feel great afterward, no matter how I felt at the beginning.

Here are some examples I've heard from women and men who felt downright guilty and selfish doing nice things for themselves.

  1. Wanting the husband and kids out of the house for a few hours just to enjoy the quiet (one woman has asked for 24 hours alone in her home for Christmas)
  2. Reading a book or taking a nap when there are still things to do
  3. Taking time out for friends
  4. Buying something just for themselves that feels like a luxury
  5. Sleeping alone for a night and having the whole bed to themselves
  6. Getting to play a game of golf or watch sports on a regular basis
  7. Saying no to outside requests that would stretch time or resources and add to stress
  8. Turning the ringer off and napping
  9. Anything that is not productive and just enjoyable
  10. Taking a weekend morning for an intimate connection with a partner and ignoring chores, emails and phone calls for the day
  11. Saying no kids who forgot something at home they needed at school, which would result in plans being canceled and an hour of extra driving

So unplugging is both what you take time to do for yourself, and the things you say no to that would otherwise result in your feeling stressed-out and overwhelmed.

Remember on the airplane: you place your mask on first, and then help others. If you are running on empty and depleted from over-giving and under-unplugging, you can't help anyone.

What do you enjoy but feel guilty doing? What can you do for half an hour today or tomorrow that is 100 percent selfish? If you are selfish for 30 minutes a day, you feed your own soul and body so that you can be generous and loving the rest of the day. My pledge is to bike today for 30 minutes and not bring my cell phone -- just notice the trees and set aside the long To Do list for that time.

For other healthy living tips, visit Laura's Wholesome Junk Food.