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.

baby hat, knit hat, knitted, knit cap

     

knit, knitted, cowl, purple, handknit

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.

hot air balloon, balloon festival, colorful balloon

     

Whimsical Portrait, Girl with Books, Bookworm, Book Photograph, Quirky

Why?

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?

3 Replies to “Self Care can be your Sanity Saver”

  1. Creating and writing are my biggest self care options. They always have been since I was child : I only called it fun or a hobby instead of self care before I was an adult and stressed mom.

    The many trials I’ve faced since then have taught me that self care is those things and so much more: It’s group texting my oldest and dearest friends with a funny video. It’s an exercise class instead of dishes. It’s a hike to a foreign destination. It’s reading this post and browsing Pinterest in the tub until my water is cold HaHa!

    Thanks for this, Claire. Wonderful writing!!

    1. Thanks, sweet friend! It feels odd to say this, but even though I’m a writer, I rarely write for therapeutic reasons. Instead, the act of writing is “other”–fiction, how-to, etc…. Like writing a research report. I often try to avoid lots of self-reflection time because I’m afraid I will access my depression that way. So I don’t write to process feelings. But I’m thinking I need to get over it and do it anyway….

      I think of you and your family often and pray for you. I love you, friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *