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!