Episode 26: Sustainable Self-Soothing and Productive Self-Care

When does self-care become self-soothing? The phrase “self-care” seems to have morphed into a catch phrase and punch line these days. Is a glass (or bottle) of wine after a tough day really self-care? Are you really taking good care of your colleagues by bringing a couple dozen donuts to the office? Part of making the distinction between self-soothing and self-care is that self-care allows you space to be uncomfortable. 

Here is what you can expect in this episode:

  1. Definitions and examples of self-care and self-soothing.
  2. First aid for emotional road rash.
  3. Questions to ask yourself to determine if you need self-care or self-soothing.

Listen at the link below or search for “Sustainable Productivity with Susan Sanders” everywhere podcasts are available.

Links to Learn More

Links mentioned in this episode of the Sustainable Productivity podcast:

We would love to hear from you. Send your feedback on the episode, suggestions for future show topics or guests, and anything else to Susan@SustainableSue.com or in a DM on Instagram.

By |2023-07-31T08:42:25-04:00July 31st, 2023|Show Notes|0 Comments

Is Sleep Self-Care?

Wow – so many of you reached out to me after last week’s post about deep feelings around Simone Biles. Thank you so much. I am slowly working on peeling the layers of the onion when it comes to writing about vulnerable topics, especially when they might be controversial.

Today’s peeling is less controversial, but still on the personal side.

I am 47 years old and only recently started staying up until 9:00 pm.

Source: Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash

Sleep is a foundational component for me to live a life I don’t need to escape. I wonder if it might be for you too. We have talked in previous posts about the changes to your body when you are sleep deprived. In the past I have given you tips to making adjustments to your SusPro components to improve sleep.

Have you done it yet?

Why Not?

What is keeping you from getting the sleep you need? Be honest.

Is it the expectation that fun only happens after midnight?

Mindless numbing out to TV shows is more appealing than boring going to bed early?

Do you tell yourself post kids’ bedtime routine is the only grown up time or alone time you have?

Now I want to suggest you throw these reasons up against this framework to see if they stick. Byron Katie has a set of 4 questions that can help us truly inquire into our motives, thoughts and feelings.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know this is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

Let’s look at an example related to sleep. If you ask yourself what is keeping you from getting the sleep you need, you may come back with an answer along these lines: After the kids go to bed is the only time I have for myself.

Is it true? Is it really true that this is the only “free time” you have? Have you tried moving things around your weekend schedule to make time to be alone? If you look at your workday are there pockets of time that could be dedicated to what you want to do?

Can you absolutely know this is true? Have you tried to do a time study to see where your time goes? It may feel like you don’t have any time for yourself, but once you see it objectively in a time tracker, you may find out this is not actually true.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? What if it is true that this is the only free time you have for yourself? Notice what happens in your body when you realize that you spend 18 hours every day serving everyone else and leaving only crumbs for yourself? Do you feel sad? Anxious?

Who would you be without that thought? Katie coaches us to, “Take a moment to reflect, observe, and experience the situation again, this time without the thought. Who or what you would be without the thought?” In this example, what would you be if you were not a person who only had time for self-care by cutting into sleep/recovery time?

Why Not!

Let’s step away from the buzzword use of self-care for a second. Being rested is simply the right thing to do for your mental and physical health. You don’t have to frame it in a certain way to get what you need. I love what Marc Randolph had to say about this in his book about his founding of Netflix, That Will Never Work.

“But when I needed a morning off, to mountain bike and clear my head, I took it. Nowadays they call that ‘self-care.’ Back then, we just called it common sense. If we were going to try to fundamentally change an entire industry, we needed to have our wits about us,” Marc Randolph, Netflix founder.

What do you have to lose by at least trying to get more sleep? I am not saying you have have an 8 year old’s bed time like I do, but you will be surprised what 30-90 more minutes of sleep can do. Even lying in bed reading, doing deep breathing exercises, or meditating can help. Perhaps increasing your rest leading up to sleep can be a gateway of sorts to improving your sleep habits.

“Nowadays they call that ‘self-care.’ Back then, we just called it common sense.” Mark Randolph, Netflix Founder

Your Turn

What is one small adjustment you can make to improve your sleep habits? Maybe you want to consider why you stay up late even though you drag through half the morning. It might be starting to track your time to consider why you think you don’t have more time for yourself. Maybe adjustments to your environmental surroundings to give yourself a better chance at a good night’s sleep is the right next step.

Whatever it might be for you, let me know how it goes and what it brings up for you!

By |2021-08-16T20:05:11-04:00August 17th, 2021|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

Self-Soothing or Self-Care

When does self-care become self-soothing? The phrase “self-care” seems to have morphed into a catch phrase and punch line these days. Is a glass (or bottle) of wine after a tough day really self-care? Are you really taking good care of your colleagues by bringing a couple dozen donuts to the office? How is pending a holiday with your family knowing you have to spend 2 weeks holed up to recover from it self-care?

Distinction between self-soothing and self-care

Part of making the distinction between self-soothing and self-care is that self-care allows you space to be uncomfortable. I will even go so far as to suggest it forces you into choosing to sit in pain and discomfort. Let me give you an example.

Last week I got laid off. I knew it was coming and had been job searching. I had three rounds of interviews with two different companies. Although I was sad my job was ending, I was also confident that I would get one of the two I was interviewing for. I was so bold to start a mental pro and con list of which I would choose when I was offered both. 

You see what’s coming, right? 

Friday afternoon I got turned down for both jobs. I have never not gotten a job I have interviewed for – not in 46 years. Until Friday… when I lost both. Within an hour.

My first instinct was to jump on all of the job boards and apply for everything in a panic. My second instinct was to eat a whole box of Thin Mint cookies. Both of these fall squarely into the category of self-soothing. Taking action and covering my fear with sugar are often my go to strategies when I am fearful. 

Luckily, I have learned that my first instinct in these situations is often wrong. Instead I opted for self-care, to sit in my discomfort for a bit. I hopped on a call with a circle of women I trust to talk it through and listen to their wisdom. Full disclosure – I did eat 6 cookies while on that call. I am not perfect. 


This morning as I sit here trying to figure out what to write on the blog, I am looking through some drafts of posts I started and never finished. And of course, there is one that talks about feeling fear and another about self-care vs. self-soothing. The universe is not subtle. The messages are there if we get quiet. I truly believe these messages are the reward for getting quiet and not numbing out. If I would have jumped into action or cookies, I would have missed the message. This is what Julia Cameron calls “synchronicity” in her book, “The Artist’s Way.”

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

The “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” podcast discussed Book 1, Chapter 9: The Midnight Duel from the theme of betrayal. Part of what they talked about was feeling that betrayal. Encouragement to feel the fear, the loneliness, the vulnerability. 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

This is not an intuitive thing for most of us in today’s world. Even the first time I typed that sentence I accidentally typed “fear the fear, the loneliness….” We want to not feel negative feelings. People tell us to snap out of it or cheer up!

But what if? 

  • What if I sat with the fear that I had about being unemployed?
  • What if I just let myself feel lonely and rejected?
  • What if I cried and howled at how scared I am? How helpless I feel with a college tuition bill pending?

This is synchronicity. How could something recorded in 2016 know exactly what I needed to hear in 2020? Because I was ready to hear it. Synchronicity is everywhere when we slow down to allow ourselves to hear it and see it. If we continually soothe ourselves into not feeling our feelings, we muffle the messages the universe is trying to send our way.  Let’s take care of the feelings instead of just smoothing over them. 

Sorta Awesome Podcast

One of my favorite podcasts has touched on this self-care vs. self soothing a few times. The original Sorta Awesome episode that planted this seed in my awareness is actually a few years old. I recommend starting here.

As a follow up, Sorta Awesome did a holiday-specific episode in 2019 that discussed seven types of self-care around the holidays. One of the resources they reference is a book about rest. Only in America do we need to be taught how to rest. Sacred Rest is a book that we can all learn from and will definitely be one that I will return to, probably receiving different messages during various seasons in my life.

7 kids of self care

You can listen to this episode anywhere you get podcasts or directly from the Sorta Awesome website by clicking on the graphic above.

What about you, Dear Reader? How does self-soothing and self-care show up in your life? 

By |2020-07-20T18:29:40-04:00July 21st, 2020|Mental Well-being|1 Comment
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