I’ll be honest. I used to think self care was, at its core, really just about self-centeredness. I thought it was selfish. I understood that you obviously do need to take care of yourself, but self care always seemed to be couched in terms of self-indulgence.
I no longer feel this way. Sure, self care can be taken to extremes and can be used as an excuse to ignore your responsibilities. But used wisely, self care can be a sanity saver. I’ve found this to be true in my life.
Without taking time each day to do something—even something tiny—for me, I find myself spiraling…feeling trapped…overwhelmed.
The hardest part has been figuring out how I could fit in these tiny moments instead of lamenting that I wasn’t able to fit in the 3 hours I deeply wished I could spend on my writing.
Which is part of why I create with knitting, crochet, embroidery, and photography. They are all things I can fit into my daily life…in the presence of distractions (ahem, children). I used to ache when I couldn’t write. Sometimes it was me that made the choice–Netflix instead of writing. Or sleep. Or friends. But once we had our first child, I honestly couldn’t find the brain power or the energy or the silence needed for 3-hour stretches of writing.
Just 18 months before our son’s birth, I had been in graduate school, earning my M.F.A. in fiction writing. I had to write most days, either stories for workshop or my thesis, or essays for composition and theory classes. And only a few months before our son arrived, I had been teaching–writing lesson plans, editing papers, leading workshops.
The abrupt shift away from this daily creating, instead of bringing the ache, brought loss of identity. But I didn’t recognize it. I still considered myself a writer, but one who was also a new mom and temporarily distracted.
I didn’t realize how desperately I needed the self care that creating brought me.
Shortly after our son’s birth, I picked up the new camera that we’d bought to document our new child and started shooting again. I opened an Etsy shop and joined teams and groups and led them and essentially focused all of my creative energies into photography.
When our second child was born 2 years after the first, I added in knitting and crocheting. Of course I opened another Etsy shop and funneled more of my creative energies there.
Because I could knit in the presence of two small children and still interact with them. I could create in the midst of noise–watching a movie, reading a book, listening to an endless story.
And now I find that I must take time each day for this self care. For me, this means creating. Many days, I want to spend all of my time creating. In a perfect world, that’s all I would do. But I do have to feed the people in my life. And clean. And all the rest. (And right now, I have to work two work-from-home jobs to help make ends meet).
For this season of my life, self care is my sanity saver.
What does self care look like for you?