[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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!