I've always been highly productive, but for a long time I've pushed back against the things I've felt I had to do. The pressure of them produced a desire for space. I would tell myself that I needed more energy, more rest first. I'd settle down to read, to drink tea, but inside I'd have the constant awareness of an anxious knot, the task that I was waiting to do.

It's definitely true that we need energy to be able to do difficult tasks. But we need to store that energy ahead of time. I store energy throughout the day and week through legitimate acts of self-care. Not pampering, but investing time and care in my body, mind, and spiritual life.

I'm learning now that I need to make a spot decision. Is this something I am able to do now? If I legitimately don't have enough willingness or energy to say yes, the task isn't to rest, it's to intentionally build that energy. There is no such thing as passive energy production - to move stress and invest in myself I have to do something.

What's worse is that I'm robbing myself of the enjoyment of the activities I use in service of relaxation before my work. Fiction read with a background noise of guilt isn't exactly the light tromp through wonderland (or a dystopian desert) I'm looking for.

So it's tension all the way down. Either the tension of relaxing in guilt. Or the tension of doing a task I don't want to do. Or the tension of working to build the energy and willingness to do it intentionally. When it's done, my time is my own again.