Lillian Fallon on Self-Care as a Freelance Writer (and Style Expert!)

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read their stories, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Lillian is a freelance writer based in eastern PA. She is passionate about exploring the connection between the physical and the interior of the human person as seen through personal style. Believing that sartorial choices can dignify the body and aid in the expression of the soul, Lillian draws from St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of The Body as her primary source of inspiration. In her free time, Lillian loves vintage shopping and jamming out to old school tunes. You can find her on Instagram and at her website.

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1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Hey! I’m Lillian and I’m a writer. I juggle a few different freelance gigs. My jobs span across marketing content, product descriptions, self-help articles, personal reflections, and honestly, whatever is thrown my way. I’m most passionate about creating content that actually helps people and can better enrich their daily lives. I’m especially passionate about helping women express themselves through their personal style.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
A typical day for me is spent in my room, writing non-stop. The great thing about being freelance is that I have the freedom to take a break when I need to and hop over to my neighbor’s house (who’s also my best friend) and hang out for a bit. I can also take my work anywhere, so if I want to go and visit my sisters or friends, all I have to do is bring my laptop!

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?
I always laugh about how my Instagram grid looks very different than my stories. I think it’s a perfect example of what my self-care looks like. On the one hand, I love styling photo shoots with planned out looks and expressing my creativity. On the other hand, my stories pretty much exclusively feature me in oversized sweats, no makeup, and probably chillin’ in bed. My self-care is all about finding a balance between relaxation and being pulled-together.

Wearing an outfit that expresses how uniquely I was made gives me a sense of confidence. It reminds me that I’m one-of-a-kind -- tangibly manifesting the individuality of my personhood through personal style. But, when I’m chilling in my oversized sweats, I’m reminded that my worth doesn’t come from my appearance -- my worth comes from simply being created in the Image and being unconditionally loved by God.

Knowing that I don’t have to look perfect all the time really keeps me grounded and helps me to stop any self-destructive nit-picking behavior. It also gives me the freedom to really dig into the depths of what personal style actually is and express who I really am, not the “perfect” version magazines tell us to be.

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4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
My favorite self-care practice is having a strict cut-off time when it comes to work -- especially mentally. It’s really easy to let work infiltrate your thoughts even on your time off, so I’ve worked really hard to get my mind into the habit of listening to myself when I say, “No more. You can’t think about work anymore. You are done until tomorrow morning.” When you’re freelance, clients think they can harass you at any hour of the day -- it’s very common for clients to have little respect for your time. After 5pm, I don’t answer work messages or emails. Since I integrate my Instagram with my work, I stop reading and answering any DM’s that pertain to work after 5pm. I also don’t talk about work or communicate with any clients on the weekends.

When I’m strict with my thoughts, I give myself the freedom to actually benefit from my time off which then increases work productivity during work hours.

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
I definitely struggle with taking care of myself physically when I’m stressed out or busy. I manifest my stress in my body, so when I go through intense periods of stress, I start losing weight and hair. When I’m worrying about the future, stressed about money, a boy, or a deadline, I lose my appetite.

In the past I’ve addressed this stress in a healthy way by channeling it into physical activity and making nutritious meals, but it’s hard for me to stick to when I’m feeling the weight of my anxiety.

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6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
Being busy and stressed out IS NOT COOL. When you’re young, it’s so easy to buy into the American work-a-holic mentality that tells us that being busy means you’re important. We think that not sleeping and having a million things means we’re in high-demand and therefore significant. I wish I could go back and tell myself that working 12 hour days doesn’t define my worth. No grade, no boy, no friendship, no degree, no job is worth your mental health!

Get 8 hours of sleep, please start drinking more water, eat three meals a day, and make time for your social life!


7. Lightening Round!

a. Coffee or tea?
I love coffee but it gives me horrendous heartburn, so I’ve had to switch to herbal tea (that’s sort of self-care, right!?)! Thankfully, I’ve become obsessed with Tazo’s Prickly Pear tea.

b. Current favorite TV show?
I’m a total cliche, but my favorite tv show is and always will be The Office.

c. Early bird or night owl?
Night owl! This a bit unfortunate since I always do my best work in the morning.

d. Favorite quote?
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou. As a Catholic, I believe in redemption and giving people the chance to change. But I think it’s especially important for young women to stop making excuses for bad behavior from people who take advantage of their kindness. I’ve seen so many good women being burned (myself included) by relationships that have red flags all over it, but thought they were being good Christians by sticking with someone who was not healthy.

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Crunchy almond butter!


Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Lilly! 

Shannon K. Evans on the Importance of Recognizing Your Needs

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read their stories, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Shannon K. Evans is a spiritual writer whose work explores the interconnectedness between relationship with God and relationship to the world around us. She is the author of Embracing Weakness: The Unlikely Secret to Changing the World, has contributed to various print and online publications, and enjoys speaking to encourage young and old in deepening their lives of faith. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, or learn more at www.shannonkevans.com.

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1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I'm a married mom of five kids 9 and under, and I'm a writer—mostly for magazines and websites but my first book, Embracing Weakness: The Unlikely Secret to Changing the World, came out this past spring. My personality is very laid back so most of my life as a mom and just as a human is slow and mellow. Yet professionally my inner drive really shows itself and I can tend to be a surprising workaholic.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
A typical day involves rushing like crazy in the morning to get the three oldest kids off to school, then taking a breather with a cup of coffee as I get ready to launch into the day with just our toddler and infant at home with me. When with them I try to give "momming" my full attention. We hit the library or play dates or whatnot, and then I usually do a little writing during nap time— if I can stay awake! My mom generously takes the toddler twice a week, and on those days I try my best to get all my writing done between (or sometimes during, ha!) breastfeeding and diaper changes. Once school is out, the neighborhood kids all flock to our backyard so I like to hang around with other moms. We're lucky to have a neighborhood that feels like community. After dinner and the bedtime routine, my spouse and I are most likely to veg out together with a Netflix show, although sometimes I have to burn the proverbial midnight oil and finish writing to make a deadline.

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?
I have not been the greatest at recognizing my own need for self-care, but I've made big strides in the past 12 months. It is not intuitive or natural for me to recognize my own areas of need: I tend to numb myself and my needs so that I don't inconvenience anyone, including myself.

I'm used to being a low-maintenance person who is ready to be there for other people, but I finally realized that I wasn't being kind to or true to myself in doing that. So lately I'm working on practicing self-care by being honest about my own needs—honest first with myself, and then with those closest to me—and committing to seeing them met.

And when I say "my needs" I'm talking about even simple things like personal space, time alone, opportunity to be still and pray, things like that. My deep heart needs that help me be an emotionally healthy person. When I wrote my book, Embracing Weakness, this particular application wasn't on my radar at all. But in retrospect, I needed to hear my own message in a new way!

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4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
My favorite self-care practice is probably yoga, and it's been awhile since I've gotten to do it consistently. A good yoga practice makes me feel physically strong and invigorated, but so much more, it invites me to take time to connect back to myself and to God. I'm the kind of person who falls asleep if I sit still to pray, so moving my body while praying and contemplating makes more sense for me and is so much more life-giving.

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
I'm 6 weeks postpartum with 5 young kids so I'm definitely struggling to care for myself physically right now. Showering is a luxury and doing my hair almost never happens! I've tried to put on a little makeup every day as an act of self-love, but yeah, physically feeling pretty haggard is bumming me out. As we settle into a "new normal" I'm looking forward to tending to myself with a bit more honor.

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6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
I would tell my younger self to check in with her gut and be honest about what she needs.

It's easy to go get a pedicure and feel like you've done self care (and sometimes that works!), but it's often harder to really examine our emotions and reactions and take the time to analyze them.

For example, so often when I react defensively or angrily to people I love it's often because I'm harboring unaddressed feelings of resentment about my own life; my needs aren't getting met and the anger over it underlies how I respond to everything. So I would tell younger me to stop trying to make herself small and convenient, but instead identify and express what she needs (embrace her own weakness, if you will). Everyone will be happier in the long run.

7. Lightening Round!
a. Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the mornings, sweet iced tea on hot afternoons, and hot tea at night. That was a complicated answer!

b. Current favorite TV show?
The Good Place

c. Early bird or night owl?
Night owl if I have to choose but really, I just love to sleep

d. Favorite quote?
Probably the line from a Rumi poem tattooed on my arm: "Around the lip of the cup we share, these words: my life is not mine".

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Definitely smooth peanut butter!


Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Shannon! 

Mary Grace Mangano on Running as Self-Care

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read their stories, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Mary Grace Mangano is a high school English teacher in Harlem, New York, having also taught middle school Language Arts and Religion in Chicago. She has written for Verily, Darling Magazine, the Blessed is She Blog and other publications. She is passionate about education, loves writing poetry, running, reading, exploring, and learning new things. You can discover her writing on her website and find her running alongside friend Grace Carroll on Instagram @_solefaith.

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1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
My name is Mary Grace and I am a daughter, sister, friend, and constant learner. I teach high school English at a Catholic independent school in East Harlem, New York City. As difficult as teaching is, I truly feel as though it is a vocation for me and my students certainly help me to be a better, more patient person. I live in one of the biggest cities in the world, though I never expected to end up here. I try to take advantage of the numerous parks, museums, coffee shops, and interesting events that the city has to offer.

Though teaching keeps me busy, I started Sole Faith, a running and faith ministry, just over a year ago with my friend Grace (yup, Mary Grace and Grace!). We share on Instagram about our workouts, our prayers for each other, our motivation, the recipes we like, and what makes us laugh. We even planned and led the first-ever faith-based running retreat last April after the Holy Half marathon in South Bend, IN.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
A typical day for me begins at 5:45 when I wake up.

I’ve always been a morning person and truly love those quiet minutes at the start of my day. I eat breakfast while I pray through the daily Mass readings and reflect on them with the Blessed is She devotional.

I walk or take public transportation to school and arrive between 6:45 and 7:00. Then, it’s a whirlwind of a day teaching multiple classes, covering lunch duty, tutoring or proctoring a club after school, and of course grading and planning. I aim to go home between 5:30 and 6:30, after which I like to go for a run or do some other type of workout (right now I’m training for the NYC Marathon and fundraising for my students)! After that, I shower and make dinner. I usually read, watch a show, or call a friend in the evening, and I end my night with prayer.

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?
This question really makes me pause. Has this always been something I prioritize? I think it’s been an ebb and flow. Some seasons have been better than others. Looking back, I can see how my parents set a good example for my sisters and me. My dad made sacrifices like driving a long commute to work so that we could be near friends and enjoy time together as a family on the weekends, when we would hike or bike or go to a museum. They consciously limited our “screen time” (though that wasn’t a phrase back in the 90s) and encouraged us to play sports or to go outside in our backyard creek.

When I left for college, I had to learn to do this on my own. I work best when it’s quiet, so I’d often be in the library for long hours. But I took dance breaks and stretched my legs with walks around campus (you can seriously ask my roommates about the dance breaks).

The season of life that was most challenging for me in terms of self-care was when I first started teaching. I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know how to keep up. I worked on the weekends and got little sleep. Everything suffered - my prayer life, my relationships, my physical health. I realized that I needed to be filling myself up in order to pour out myself in service to my students and community.

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4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
It’s actually hard for me to pick just one! But the first thought I have for this is running. I wrote about the ways running brings me peace and has become part of my spiritual practice over on Grotto Network, but suffice it to say that running allows me to “turn off” my busy brain in a way that other things do not. Reading allows me to escape, time with family or friends brings me comfort, but running restores my peace.

For some reason, my mind finds a natural rhythm where I can pray, or simply move my body without thinking too much. It has taught me so much -- about discipline, listening to my instincts, responding to each situation, persisting -- and also makes me feel powerful. My body and soul feel the most united when I am running.

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
If I’m being truthful, there are probably many areas where I can grow. I think for me, though, the biggest area of growth is investing my time instead of just using it. I have always been someone who has a hard time saying “no.” I want to be everything to everyone, but that means I stretch myself too thin and I’m actually not giving my best self to anyone. In order to take care of myself, as well as honor other people, I hope to be more honest about my time. I may want to say “yes” to every opportunity, but instead I should reserve that for those that I truly value. I want to give my all, but I can’t do that all the time.

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6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
I wish I could tell myself always to make decisions for myself and also that I am not alone. These two things robbed me of some of my peace when I would agonize over what others might think or compared myself to other people. But I also believed often that I was alone and that I was “too much” something or “not enough” of something else. A big part of learning to take care of myself has included getting to know myself, viewing my emotions as important information about my wants/needs, and being comfortable asking for help. Finding community has also been critical -- which is why I’m so grateful for our @_solefaith community of awesome people who lift each other up in faith and in fitness.

7. Lightening Round!
a. Coffee or tea?
Coffee!

b. Current favorite TV show?
Always The Office!

c. Early bird or night owl?
Early bird.

d. Favorite quote?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Smooth but I like almond butter better!


Thank you, Mary Grace! 

Krista Steele on Being Gentle With yourself & Postpartum Self-Care

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read their stories, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Krista is a licensed social worker and freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Jeff, their daughter, Lucy and dog, Hank. She believes the best moments in life happen around the table, that there's always room for one more book in your Amazon cart/suitcase/purse, and that every load of laundry folded is an hour out of purgatory. You can find her outside wither her motley crew, hunkered down with a novel, or sipping coffee while she writes. You can read her column “The Ask”, a Catholic advice column, at CatholicSistas.com. Find her thoughts on relationships, mental health and faith at GrottoNetwork.com where she contributes regularly. Follow her adventures in marriage and motherhood on Instagram at @KristaSteele_.

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1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Right now, I’m first and foremost a wife and a mom. Our daughter was born on April 3rd and we are in the weeds of learning what it means to be a family of 3.  I change a lot of diapers and watch a lot of Netflix. I wash tons of laundry that only gets folded because my mom comes over and does it for me. We eat a lot of take out and snuggle on the couch every afternoon for a nap.

Some would call this “survival mode”, but I don’t like that term. I don’t feel like we’re just surviving. I feel like our live has been simplified in a really beautiful and necessary way.

In July, I’ll return to work two days per week as a therapist in a private practice where I work primarily with teens and young adults. I’m also a freelance writer. We live in Columbus, Ohio and have an Australian Shepherd named Hank, who loves being a big brother. My husband and I are the coordinators of our parish young adult group in our spare time.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
I’m woken up every day by a super cute, tiny alarm clock between 7:00 and 8:00 and my husband brings me a cup of coffee while I feed her in bed. He is the absolute best dad and husband. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Sometimes it’s a trip to the grocery store, a walk at the park, meeting up with a friend. Other times we hunker down and spend most of the day snuggling on the couch. Sometimes I can squeeze in phone calls, a workout or some writing time during her nap, other times not so much. Sometimes dinner gets made and the house gets tidied up, sometimes we’re living in squalor and eating frozen pizza.

Again. I’m learning that much of what my day looks like is out of my control, so I try to go into it with an idea of what I’d like to do, and then let the chips fall where they may.

Sometimes I get to the end of the day and think “I’m a freaking rockstar” and other days I have to remind myself I’m still a rockstar when the only thing I crossed off my to do list is “Keep baby and self alive.”

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?
For a long time I was very unkind to myself. I’m a recovering perfectionist and a chronic people pleaser. I’m my own harshest critic. I don’t say this as some kind of twisted false humility, like saying my biggest weakness is being “too dedicated to my work” in an interview. No. My biggest weakness is a fundamental inability to be satisfied with anything less than my idea of perfection and it often keeps me from doing meaningful work by keeping me distracted with stuff that doesn’t matter like scrolling through Instagram or organizing a pile of papers that doesn’t really need organized.

I’ve only really started prioritizing self-care in the last 5 years or so, and only because I witnessed the damage a lack of self-care can cause by observing other women in my life.

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4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
Oh man. There are so many. My definition of self-care has gotten more and more broad over the years. Today, I went to the ObGyn alone and stopped for coffee on the way. It was the first time I left the house alone since Lucy was born. I sipped my cold brew and read a novel while half naked on the exam table and it was absolute bliss.

All that to say, my definition of self-care is constantly changing and it isn’t always glamorous.

In general, long walks outside, working out, making and eating a nourishing meal, going to therapy, taking myself and a crisp $20 bill to my favorite bookstore, having lunch or a glass of wine with friends, time with my husband, a hot bath. Also, as a graduation gift to ourselves and each other when we both started our careers, we hired a housekeeper to come twice a month and it’s probably the best thing we’ve done as family self-care. I don’t do all the things every day or even every week, but I try to do at least one thing every day for myself. Right now, therapy and working out are the two big game changers when it comes to self-care.

Going to therapy and being on the other side of the couch really helps me get out of my head. I tend to be anxious and overthink things. Therapy gives me a place to gain awareness of my thoughts and emotions and is really helping me, a type A control freak new mom, enjoy the unpredictability of life with a newborn. Working out helps me feel at home in my body and the endorphins give me a nice energy boost.  I’m not trying to get my “pre-baby body back.” That’s never going to happen, and even if it could, I’m not interested in moving backward. I’m committed to moving forward in a body, mind and soul that have been transformed by motherhood.

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
I struggle to give myself grace. I want to do things right, even when I know there is no one right way to do most things in life. Cue all the overthinking. This is something I talk about and work through in spiritual direction and therapy. I’ve been focusing on the playful nature of God and thinking about my relationship with him as a dance. He invites me to dance cheek to cheek with him, a spin here, a dip there, moving to the music. I want to stop taking life and myself so seriously all the time. It’s such a buzzkill, you know?

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6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
I would tell myself to stay the course and let yourself be surprised. Everything I did or didn’t do, every experience that shaped who I am now, it was all part of the journey that has led me to care for myself so well as an adult. Caring for myself not only allows me to care for my friends and family better now, but in some small way I’m also caring for my younger self.

7. Lightening Round!
a. Coffee or tea?
Coffee! And the occasional cup of chamomile tea before bed, but always coffee.

b. Current favorite TV show?
Right now I’ve been binge watching ”Friends” while I nurse, and I love it. Sometimes I laugh so hard, Lucy loses her latch. Before that I watched Blue Bloods and absolutely loved everything about it.

c. Early bird or night owl?
Early bird 100%. These days, it’s a struggle to stay awake until the 10:00 feeding.

d. Favorite quote?
“God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.” - Fr. Gregory

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Smooth. Preferably inside Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups.


Thank you, Krista! 

You can follow Krista on Instagram at @KristaSteele_.

Bridget Busacker and Her Recipe for Self-Care Success

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read their stories, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Bridget Busacker works as a health educator & communications specialist for a local government agency. She is founder of Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop NFP/FABM resource website for women & couples. Bridget is passionate about reproductive health education & advocacy that supports and upholds the dignity of the human person. Additionally, she & her husband, David, host an online resource dedicated to the power of Beauty and exploring the transcendentals over at The Beautiful Wounds.


1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
My name is Bridget Busacker and I’m married to my wonderful husband, David, of 2.5 years. I have my undergraduate degrees in strategic communications & public health and my graduate degree in health communication. By day, I work for the Minnesota Department of Health as a health educator and communications specialist. By night (or free time), I maintain Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop NFP/FABM resource website for women and couples to learn about the science and benefits of charting. My husband and I also have a website we run together called The Beautiful Wounds, which explores beauty in our everyday lives. We’re currently exploring where the Holy Spirit is leading us with this resource and how we can best use it to glorify God! David and I are both active in our lay movement, The Catholic Advance, under the ecclesial family, Pro Ecclesia Sancta, and are active members in our parish life with marriage, music, & young adults ministries. I speak locally through archdiocesan and parish ministries and really enjoy talking to women about the importance of our faith life and leadership in the church.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
David and I are currently working on actually getting up with our alarms (we’re notorious for hitting snooze) between 6/6:30a every morning and I do my best to pray and then workout. Sometimes, I don’t have enough time to get a workout done in the morning (especially if I hit the snooze button), so I have to plan for a workout after work instead. I have the tendency to choose a workout over my prayer time and I’m working on that because I feel so much more grounded and at peace when my day starts with prayer! I get in to work at 8:30a and have a full day until 4:30p.

We have Monday and Thursday night commitments each week, but otherwise find ourselves working on house projects in our new home, hosting friends or hanging out with our families. Our evenings vary, but since we are pretty active in our lay movement we have to make sure to allow time to “be” in our marriage together, turning our house into a home!.

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?

“Self-care means recognizing and acting on the truth that, in order to be at your best, you must take good care of yourself. If I slept poorly last night and skipped lunch today, I am not at my best when working with clients. Sometimes, taking care of yourself is challenging. Self-care is not the “treat yourself” mentality it’s often described to be. Self-care is a discipline.” (FemCatholic, Julia Hogan, LCPC).

This definition of self-care has helped me to change my understanding of what self-care means and to challenge me to implement it into my life as a self-discipline. The mentality of  “I deserve it” (even if my bank account doesn’t agree and I’ll be stress-sleeping about that expensive handbag I purchased) was my misconstrued understanding of self-care and why I honestly scoffed at it. I never really understood the concept of self-care as a discipline. I heard more about self-care after Parks and Recreation memes circulated the internet and I was told time and again to “treat yo self” and always laughed it off as a product of our consumerist culture.

I recently started reading Julia’s book, “It’s Ok to Start with You” and her explanation of what self care is and isn’t has been so helpful for me to understand this practice, especially with a Catholic lens. I have often struggled with the concept of taking care of myself while also practicing acts of self-denial and “offering it up”. I read an article on Thought Catalog about what self-care actually is and this slowly started to help me make the connection that self-care isn’t just bubble baths, manicures, and mimosas with friends. However, it has been the more recent conversations and articles around self-care being a discipline that has allowed me to not only fully embrace this practice, but also work to actually put it into practice in my own life, so that I am a better wife, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague. Living a life of self-care is a work-in-progress for me, but I’ll strive to continue trying because there is freedom in it.

4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
For me, self-care has become a few different practices and a challenge in self-discipline, which has been very good for me. A few things that I have learned about myself through marriage, spiritual direction, and therapy, is that:

  1. Creating silence is necessary for me to slow down my thoughts and my day and allow God in. I find that I am so much more centered when my day begins with prayer and I invite God into my morning. If I skip prayer altogether, I find I’m not anchored and I’m running around, filled with noise. Beginning a day without prayer is a day wasted, as my husband’s spiritual director has reminded him. When I pray, I center myself around silence instead of noise so that the default backdrop of my day is order, not chaos. God speaks most clearly in quiet, and I want to hear Him more. I will also keep the radio/podcasts off during my morning commute to work to continue in silence and choose to be aware of my commute, the weather, and reflect on what’s coming up in my day. I am much more attuned to myself and what’s going on around me.

  2. Exercise helps me to feel better about myself, the endorphins give me a great boost, and I sleep better. When I was in college, I would manage stress by going on a run or going to the gym to lift weights. I lived at home during college and whenever I started storming about the house, spreading my anxiety to unsuspecting family members, my mom would say, “Go for your run! You’ll feel better!”. She knew that I always came back with  a better perspective on whatever was stressing me out. Until recently, I never really paid any attention to the fact that exercise helps me gain perspective and self-awareness. But getting outside, pushing myself, and sweating it out is a big part of my self-care today. Lately, I really enjoy kettlebell workouts and I’ve quit my gym membership in favor of at-home, free workouts through BodyFit By Amy, I also like running, walking, and biking/cycling. It is so enjoyable and I always feel better when I workout. I try to move everyday (even if it’s just 10 minutes) because it makes such a difference for me!

  3. Getting enough sleep is something that I need in order to be the best version of myself. In college, it was a badge of honor to talk about how little sleep you were on, how much coffee you could drink, and how stressed out you were. Post-college life (whether single or married) was suddenly expected to be balanced, manicured, and organized. Why would that be the result of a chaotic life in college?! I had to come to terms that this was a more challenging adjustment than I realized. I am getting used to the reality that  I feel so much better on 7-8 hours of sleep. I also notice that my skin is better, my workouts are more impactful, and I choose healthier food options, too! I’ve read about it a million times, but sometimes it takes experience and/or reading it for the million and one time when it actually makes an impact. That has been very true for me!

  4. Painting my nails is another really fun way that I enjoy taking time of out a busy week to feel good, enjoy the creativity of painting my nails, and stepping back to rest. I will usually paint my nails and watch a 20 minute show or read from a book and it’s the perfect amount of time for a break for me! It’s fun and I really like trying new funky colors. And, then I sit back, enjoy and laugh at a sitcom or read my book, while my nails dry. I prefer painting my own nails than getting a manicure. I like being in the comfort of my home, relaxing in comfy clothes, and slowing down.

  5. Spending quality time with my husband &/or our families is also very enjoyable for me and brings me energy and relaxation. Although I am extroverted, I definitely need my downtime, too. However, when I spend quality time with my husband &/or our families, it’s a really great way to connect in-person and remove all the screen time. It’s life-giving to be able to spend time together, laugh together, catch up, play board games, or eat a meal together. It’s another way that allows me to slow down and truly connect, when I’m constantly encouraged to keep my connections surface level through screens.

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
I definitely want to grow in finding hobbies that bring me joy and energy. I played violin from ages 9-14 and then switched to voice lessons in high school. I took violin lessons early on in college and during the first year my husband and I were married. Practicing the violin during our first year of marriage not only brought grounding and familiarity to me during a time of intense transition, but it also brought me great joy (and I had motivation to practice with lessons 1x/week!).

I also want to grow in scheduled screen time, especially when it comes to social media platforms. Managing my personal accounts and two business accounts can end up being a lot of work, especially if I’m not self-disciplined with my time. I have gone on fasts before with social media, but I have realized the importance of scheduling “scroll time” vs. scheduling posts and writing content for business accounts. This is an area that I need to grow in and I’m always looking to learn new tips and tricks for better time management when it comes to social media.

6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
Self-care is not selfish and it is not a “one size fits all”. I think self-care and self-worth are very tied for many of us and I’ve realized that is true, especially for me. I would often make decisions based on what was popular or what others were doing, to the detriment of not listening to myself and what I needed. And, it’s okay to have needs and to vocalize them. Sometimes, they may not be right or grounded in truth, but it’s good to voice what we’re feeling in order to better understand what lies may be in our heads & hearts that we’re believing about ourselves and our worth. Choosing what works for me and what my body needs, what gives me energy, and paying attention to what brings me joy is a very good thing and it’s important to pursue more of that - all while inviting Jesus into this to help order my disordered heart towards Him. I think I was scratching the surface of self-care in high school and college, but wasn’t sure how to discern or differentiate what self-care was and wasn’t at the time. I’m grateful for the various resources that exist today and for Julia’s voice in a much needed space!

7. Lightening Round!
a. Coffee or tea?
Decaf coffee. I started having decaf coffee about a month before Lent and then gave up coffee for Lent altogether. It sounds weird, but I really like not having an extra stimulant, although I totally felt “out” of the coffee culture, which I never expected! I really had to make the call for my own health and myself. I’m more aware of when I’m tired, see improvements with my acne, etc., so it’s been a plus right now!

b. Current favorite TV show?
PBS Masterpiece Victoria & The Office

c. Early bird or night owl?
I’m an early bird if I can take it slow and have a cozy morning at home. I love taking my time in the morning. I want to be more of a morning person, but that requires me to work on my sleep schedule, so I’m hoping to get there!

d. Favorite quote?
“Don’t say, ‘That person bothers me.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.’” - St. Josemaria Escriva. This quote gets me EVERY TIME!

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Crunchy peanut butter with apple slices, carrots, or celery. PBFit in smoothies!


Thanks, Bridget! 

You can follow Bridget on Instagram at @smidgeofbridg, @managingyourfertility, @thebeautifulwounds. You can also visit her websites at www.managingyourfertility.com and www.thebeautifulwounds.com.

A Psychologist's Self-Care Tips (Including her surprising tip for dealing with insomnia.)

[Editor's note: The thought of starting to take better care of yourself can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. These interviews feature individuals who have successfully incorporated self-care into their daily routines. Read them, be inspired by them, and take on the challenge of self-care!]

Rose Chin, PhD is a clinical psychologist and Catholic in the Austin, TX area.  When she isn’t treating patients, you can find her shopping for baby clothes, spending time with her husband, and trying to figure out how to cook.  You can follow Rose on her website, gracefilledmindblog.com and on Instagram at grace_filled_mind.

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1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I am a health psychologist by training, meaning I got a phd in psychology and specialize in helping people with medical conditions.  I love my work and am passionate about helping women who suffer with health problems. I am also a newlywed, new to Austin, and new to motherhood.  Joseph was born in January and he’s already the love of my life.

2. What is a typical day like for you? 
My typical day has changed a lot since become a mom! I wake up with my nugget around 7 and when he sleeps I also attempt to find that nap during the day to ward off sleep deprivation (which is a major contributor to postpartum mental health issues). I make a healthy lunch to energize my body and always find time to get a nightly bath + glass of wine in. Yes - every night even with a new baby! Thanks to my husband. I love having that moment alone with my thoughts and with the Lord.

3. What has your relationship to self-care been like throughout your life? Did you always make it a priority?
I have almost always been able to prioritize self-care in my adult life, even in graduate school.  Perhaps it is because I had a very hectic childhood. I grew up with a younger sister who had a lot of medical problems, so I often had to finish my own school projects and cope with the stress of family being gone for long hospital trips. You don’t have to convince me that as women living in our modern world, we need and deserve self-care.

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I believe women in particular are more attuned to our environments and relationships and emotionally empathic and connected to others.  These characteristics are gifts but also require care, kindness, and connection with the Lord to keep in balance. We often over-extend ourselves mentally and physically.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not as “rugged” and “hardy” as your typical male – mentally or physically.  As women, the research shows we are more prone to anxiety and depression and physical health problems than men. We birth, we labor, we have periods and hormones.  I don’t see my personality, emotional intelligence, or physical propensities as a “weakness” of my femininity, but as something to celebrate and nurture.

Nurturing these aspects of myself often require slowing down and resting (like when I have my “aunt flo” cramps, or when I am emotionally exhausted from psychotherapy).  And that’s a beautiful thing that I have learned to embrace. I love my softness as a woman and how I am so different than a man. It’s okay if see yourself in the “princess and the pea.”  I know I do!

4. What is your favorite self-care practice?
My favorite self-care practice when I was working as a psychologist was taking a short walk around the clinic outdoors.  I will just walk away from my desk and head out the door (SPF in hand!) Taking a lap around the building allows me to relax my body and refresh my mind. Sometimes I will just focus on my legs moving, or sometimes I’ll talk the God, or maybe I’ll say a few Hail Mary’s.  I plan to continue this rhythm when I return to work part-time at some point this year.

My go-to self-care practice at home is the good ole tub soak.  During pregnant, my tub usage probably doubled as did our water bill! The sound of the water and the soaking in the warmth really relaxes my physically and also helps with the anxious thoughts I have encountered with pregnancy.  It’s my sacred place to talk to God, read a book, or just do some deep breathing. It also reduces blood pressure and heart rate and prepares the body for sleep by altering circulation..

5. Is there any area that you struggle to take care of yourself? How do you want to grow in that area?
I do struggle to care for myself with regard to nutrition and food. I am the worst at remembering to take vitamins, medications, and getting a healthy and balanced meal into my days.  I often will get so engrossed with my baby that I sometimes don’t even realize I am hungry. I’ll put my food needs towards the bottom of the list. After having the baby, this tendency took a major toll on me: I lost the baby weight too quickly and was so fatigued. For my baby’s sake and for my milk supply, I know I have to fuel my body and have learned to make it more a priority.

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I have recently tried to remedy this by being more planful: making a meal plan on Sunday and jotting down what I need from the grocery instead of shopping for groceries without a list.  I also use reminders to take my vitamins so that I can’t forget. Those little fridge post-it’s are silly but literally are so helpful. Learning to prioritize nutrition is a journey for me as I walk through motherhood.

6. What do you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to self-care?
When I was younger I always felt like I had to prove myself as tough.  Being seen as the “tiny little ballerina” (in a past life my passion was to be a professional ballerina), I wanted to show my friends and family that I could hack the tough world of pursuing my academic career.  However, I lacked a view of femininity and identity in Christ early on. A more balanced perspective about femininity and my identity opens the door to embracing self-care in such a deep way.  I wish I could have experienced that earlier in my teen years and early adulthood.

7. Lightening Round!
a. Coffee or tea? Coffee (what else makes me a good mom in the morning?) However, I’ve been loving my British Typhoo black tea with milk and sugar lately.

b. Current favorite TV show? Right now my favorite TV show is Call the Midwife - go figure!

c. Early bird or night owl? In terms of my circadian rhythm, I feel like I’m neither. Or partly both -- I do love an early morning breeze outside while sipping on some tea. I also have had to embrace 2am and 5am feedings so I’m embracing both ends of the spectrum at this point.

d. Favorite quote? To be completely real, I don’t remember quotes – my brain doesn’t work that way.  My favorite scripture is Psalm 139.

e. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Forever a smooth girl (especially in my smoothies and oatmeal!)


Thanks, Rose! You can read more about Rose on her website, gracefilledmindblog.com and on Instagram at grace_filled_mind .