Embracing Self-Care: Know thyself

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Know Thyself

In a week and a half something glorious will happen. When it does the heavens will part and angel’s voices will fill the air as they sing the Doxology.

Ryan will submit his final paper in the first year of his MA program.

No longer will my husband be a full-time employee AND student (oh, and a dad and husband, too).

No longer will my evenings be prefaced by asking, ‘What homework do you need to get done tonight? Will you be able to help with the kids?’

No longer will I make plans around a syllabus.

As soon as Ryan turns in that assignment, I’ll take care of myself. I’ll make time for me and where I want to go. No more putting my needs aside.

I wish it’s going to be that easy but I can tell you now, it’s not. Self-care is hard. But why? Why does it need to be? A group of bloggers is tackling this head on, each is posting on the same topic every Wednesday this month and they’re extending an open invitation to join in. This is great timing for me because self-care hasn’t been much of an option this past year (I’m SO grateful for grandparents that have helped me get in what I can!) and I know I need to once again make it a part of my daily routine and liturgy. I’m thankful for the chance to explore it deeply as I do.

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I have a degree in Social Sciences, specifically sociology and psychology. I spent four years taking personality tests and writing papers about myself and my feelings.

Know thyself?

Pfff… that’s easy: I’m an INFJ. Done and done.

As an INFJ, I thrive on:

  • Time to myself: I need to have space to think and process what’s going on in my life
  • Order and well-functioning systems: My life goes much more smoothly when I have established routines and my environment is clean and organized.
  • Self-improvement: I am constantly looking for ways I can better myself as an individual, wife, mom, home manager, blogger, every aspect of who I am.
  • Living in accordance with my values: I have very strong beliefs about what is right and my life needs to reflect them.
  • Peace: Okay, so everyone needs peace to thrive. But the one thing that sets me off is when someone else is angry. I don’t do conflict, I don’t do tempers. I’d rather hug someone than yell at them.
  • Authentic connections: While I am introvert, I love people. Like, I LOVE people. Really knowing someone and speaking into their life means the world to me.

Obviously some of these don’t totally gel with being a stay-at-home-mom. Time alone? Order? Peace? Not exactly part of my daily life. While I do connect with my kids, I can’t take them out for tea and have a heart-to-heart (yet). And the meaningful connections I have with friends is usually via long distance correspondence or during a play date (doesn’t really count). I live out many of my beliefs and values but some of them aren’t do-able in our current situation – we can’t afford to eat the way my morals would dictate and we aren’t living internationally at the moment. Fortunately, self-improvement does fit in. I’m not able to focus on it as much as I would like, but it’s enough that I’m satisfied.

So, how do I take care of myself when most of what I thrive on isn’t a part of my everyday life? Make it happen. The best ways for me to do this are:

  • Read: Because of wanting to constantly improve myself, I need to read a lot (I don’t read many novels, mostly personal and spiritual growth). When I read I am challenged and encouraged to be the woman God wants me to be.
  • Write: When I write I work out how I think and feel about things and it solidifies what I’m learning. And I love encouraging people (thus the blog!)
  • Get away by myself: Go to a coffee shop, take a walk, heck, grocery shopping by myself counts! Being alone affords me the opportunity to think through my values, work on improving myself in an ordered and peaceful space.
  • Spend one-on-one time with others: It’s so special to me when I can sit across from a friend and listen to her heart. I also needs lots of time with Ryan – I need to really connect with him on daily basis.
  • Host people in my home: Opening up my home opens myself to others and shows them how much I care for them.
  • Maintain a clean home: You can pretty well judge how I’m doing by the state of my kitchen. If it’s clean, I’m probably relaxed and in a good mood; the converse is true, as well. (I wrote a post about it).
  • Do what I can to live out my values, but don’t worry about what I can’t do now: One day my freezer will be filled with locally raised, grass-fed beef and I won’t be dependent on a car but until then I can do what I can and call it good with that.

Now the rubber meets the road. It’s hard to actually do these things, even though I know what I need to do and I know how important it is I do them. I see how I struggle in almost every area of my life when I don’t take time for self-care. Some of it I can do with the kiddos around: read, host, clean and, to an extent, spend time with friends. But, obviously, I need help with getting time alone. Often Ryan watches the kids but since he started school my mom has been hugely helpful and takes the kids for an afternoon almost weekly. I am SO spoiled. Before we lived in Oregon, I wrangled friends into watching them. When I protect my time I am better able to care for myself without shirking my other responsibilities.

As moms we are called to put our children’s needs before our own  but that doesn’t mean we don’t care for ourselves at all. It’s so easy to just let our own needs slide until we reach a breaking point where we can’t ignore them anymore. It doesn’t need to be that way. When we examine who we are, how God made us and what we need to thrive we can better serve our families and be the mom, wife and woman we want to be.

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Want to read more about self-care and ‘Know Thyself’? Here are other posts I really enjoyed!

Beth at Red + Honey also looks at her personality type and has a link to a FREE version of the test. Yay for MBTI!

Stacy at A Delightful Home has a great list of questions to help you think about what type of self-care YOU need.

Come back next Wednesday for my thoughts on health and spiritual care!

What does self-care look like for you? How do you find time to take care of yourself? What activities do you thrive on?


Also, what’s your personality type? Does it help you to better understand yourself?

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6 thoughts on “Embracing Self-Care: Know thyself

  1. Thanks for the post Erin!

    I’m an INFP and it totally helps me to know and understand myself. I often go out of my way to tell people I’m an introvert because I hate it when people don’t understand or think I’m weird just for being the way I am, and they way I feel most natural being. I also love to do a lot of the things you listed for self-care! The only thing I would add is that I love creating things with my hands, whether it’s painting, crocheting, or even doing a puzzle. I think have having a physical project complete after I’ve taken that time to myself just makes it really special.

    • Yay for personality types! Beth, the blogger at Red + Honey that I mentioned, is also an INFP so definitely check out her post as well! I think introverts are starting to be more understood but there is still an element of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ As an INFJ I really truly do love people; just give them to me one at a time! It is nice to have something to show for your time. While I enjoy and see value in sitting around and relaxing, it’s not always my thing. It is a special thing when what you really enjoy doing and what gives you life (like crocheting) can also lead to something that blesses you more or, even better, can bless others!
      Thanks for your comment, Rachel!

  2. Pingback: Embracing Self-care: Peace in the Home |

  3. You probably already know this, but reading (alone) at a coffee shop (duh, Bridgehead) is the best way for me to self-care. Despite having loved reading since I was about 4, this took me most of my life to figure out. So now, when I KNOW that things are going to be stressful or demanding (like, for example, grad school), I make time–ugh, so hard–to be alone, reading a good book. Exactly what I did while living in Zimbabwe, actually.

    Oh, and tidying. My soul loves a good tidy.

    As for my personality type, I’m going to hunt through papers to find the analysis I did a few years ago and get back to you. In the meantime, I DO recall that I was almost in the middle for everything; a bit frustrating, but also helpful in understanding why I feel like I’m good at so many things (which manifests in all the different jobs I’ve done), but not particularly excellent at one thing. In other words, I’m really capable. It’s basically the only explanation why I played basketball fro 5 years in high school. :)

    Knowing I am an introvert is super helpful, because it allows me not only to gain energy by doing ‘introvert things’, but also to enjoy ‘extrovert things’ more by being prepared. IE: If I know I’m going to a party where I’ll be meeting a lot of new people, I can plan to spend a few hours by myself before or after.

  4. Pingback: Embracing Self-Care: Taking Some R&R |

  5. PS: From SO much later on than I planned – I’m an INTJ. Technically,

    I’m slightly more E than I, slightly more N than S, and slightly more T than F… but INTJ is what I end up identifying with. Strangely, then, Graeme and I are the same Myers-Briggs personality type.

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