Self-care that satisfies

A few years ago, self-care was pretty much nonexistent for me. Time to myself was a rare occurrence and was pretty much all or nothing. When it was over I felt hungry for more – it was like I couldn’t get enough and I began to resent my family for being so demanding of my time.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, over time, I became aware of the fact that I require consistent self-care. Crazy, right? I found that by meeting my needs on a regular basis, (like, every day) and enjoying life’s simple pleasures, I became a far more patient, loving, and understanding person.

One aspect of self-care I discovered is crucial for my sanity is time to myself – regular breaks where I’m able to get away from everyone for a bit and just be alone with my thoughts (I’m an INFJ on the Meyer’s-Briggs).

Without breaks, I quickly become grumpy, resentful, and lose all desire to be creative.

My husband realizes this and encourages me to get out of the house on a regular basis to recharge because he knows I get distracted and forget (he actually has a “Nina self-care flow sheet” he goes through when I get in a certain mood to see if I’ve neglected anything – it’s often the breaks).

In the past few years these breaks have become a regular part of my schedule. I leave the house, sometimes frazzled, enjoy some time by myself and return refreshed and ready to take on whatever tasks await me (unless, of course, it’s mopping – I’m just never ready for that).

When I first started taking “time-outs”, most of my time was spent shopping – for me, the kids, the house – and I soon found that my super-limited budget made for short trips. But more importantly, I came back without any sense of fulfillment.

Rather than seeking out self-care that satisfied, I either did too little and found myself craving more, or I overindulged and was left with the oh-so-yucky mommy guilt. Surely, there was a happy medium that would sustain me and nourish my soul.

Thankfully, I’ve had lots of time to practice and what I’ve found is that self-care is actually pretty simple (you totally didn’t see that coming, did you?), and I’m more likely to feel satisfied by being intentional about how I spend my time alone.

The following are a few simple practices I’ve implemented that have helped me to create more satisfying self-care. I don’t do each thing every time, but I usually incorporate at least one.

Take a Journal

Writing is one of my favorite things. Scribbling things down on paper helps me to sort through what I’m feeling – whether I’m overwhelmed by things at home or jotting down ideas for something exciting, it’s helpful for me to put it on paper.

Suggestion: Use part of this time to write down things you’re thankful for. I’ve noticed that when I’ve gotten to the point of running out of my house to get away from my children, it’s because I’ve stopped giving thanks on a regular basis. Beginning your time alone with gratefulness makes a huge difference in your attitude when you return home.

Invite a Friend

We’re relational people and I know there are times when I’m just desperate for someone to talk to. Yes, my kids can talk, but really, there’s only so much to be said about Minecraft. Sometimes, I need to be with adults on my breaks.

Suggestion: Be mindful about who comes with you. Intentionally seek out someone who inspires, challenges, motivates, or energizes you.

Enjoy Nature

Take a walk in a park. Sip a cup of tea on a patio overlooking a river. Go hiking on a wooded trail. The possibilities are endless. Taking the time to be in nature is a great way to wind down and clear your mind.

Suggestion: This is also an excellent time to give thanks for the beauty that surrounds you. Being in nature is a great reminder that there is so much more to life than what is going on at home right now. You are part of something much greater. Take some time to breathe and be grateful for your smallness.

Get Inspired

I love being inspired. And I love that I can be inspired in so many ways. Next time you have time to yourself, make a point to bring along something that will inspire you – a great story, motivational non-fiction, a podcast, your favorite Spotify playlist. Go to a coffee shop, order something tasty, sit and enjoy.

Suggestion: Take this time to write down thoughts that come to you. For me, once something gives me that little nudge of inspiration, a flood of great thoughts and ideas follow that I want to remember for later. When you get home, don’t just put them away – put them into action.

Do Nothing

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. There is nothing wrong with spending your alone time at home – as long as you don’t do any cleaning! Ask your partner to take the kids to a park or a friend’s house and use the time to take a nap or have a long, hot bath.

You have permission to rest.

Suggestion: If you’re taking a bath, make it special. Make it as relaxing as possbile. If you can, put on some quiet music and dim the lights. Add some bath salts. Don’t just make it something to cross off your to-do list.

Enjoy yourself.

satisfying-self-care2Photo by Tyler Pruitt

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30 Comments

  1. Meryl @ Simple Family Home

    I love the idea of taking a journal! Or any book, actually. I think I will schedule time in this weekend to hang out a cafe and just read and write 🙂

    • Nina Nelson

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy!

  2. Sarai

    I’d love to see your self-care flow chart – I’m an INFJ also and I think it would be handy.

    • Rachel

      me tooooo!!!!

    • Anna M

      Another INFJ here. I’d love to see the sheet! Great post! Thanks. I find creating art or redecorating the house very nourishing.

    • Steph

      I’ll 3rd that!

    • Jen Morris

      Me too!! Please!!
      What a great post.

  3. Dillon

    would you please oh please share the ninja flowchart for my husband’s sake?

  4. Ruthie

    I just found out I’m truly an INFJ (after acting like a ESTP a lot….) and this post came at the perfect time – it feels like you wrote it just for me! So thank you from the bottom of my heart. I second the desire to see your flowchart – my boyfriend and family would really appreciate it I think!

  5. Mary

    I would also love to see this flowchart…or a posting on how to create one for our loved ones.

  6. Megan M.

    I am also an INFJ. It feels so selfish sometimes to say that Mommy needs some time away from the kids. I tell myself that I chose to be a SAHM and homeschoolers to four kids. But then I drain myself dry and the crankies overflow on my four precious littles. It is such a hard balance to find. I think I may just schedule a facial for next week. (I also would love to see the flow chart.)

  7. Rachel

    As an INFJ on the verge of a meltdown this is SO helpful! Thank you!

  8. Kariane

    My favorite means of self care is taking a walk by myself. I find if I stay in the house (for example to read a book or to relax with a cup of tea), I don’t truly get to spend the time alone unless everyone else is gone. I wrote about it here: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/taking-a-walk-alone/

  9. Colleen

    Greetings, fellow INFJs!

    I like this list. Being in nature is good, but doing nothing at home is my favorite self-care. The J in me has a hard time doing it, however, when the house is less-than-spotless. I’m learning to let go, or to find a spot that is already tidy to my satisfaction, but it’s a process.

  10. Bethany V.

    Wow, lots of INFJ’s on here today. I’m another one. I used to get regular breaks from my kids. I would go to Panera one evening a week or read or write. But now I’m lucky to get out once a month. My husband is an INFP and often comes home from work totally fried and in need of a break himself. But he hasn’t been getting those breaks because I’m just not sure I can survive the bedtime routine without him. (Did I mention that I’m in the third trimester with baby #3).
    I know that our kids are exhausting. Today’s “quiet time” has been not quiet and I’m feeling like my head’s going to explode if one more person bugs me for something.
    i know self care will be almost non-existent after the baby comes. I’d love to hear some tips on self-care with a newborn and other littles milling around. (Mine are 3 and 6 and we homeschool).
    I’ll also ask to see this flow chart. I think it help our house too.

  11. Lynn

    Woah. Everything about this is exactly me (down to dreading the mop!). I too experienced the same process of dissatisfaction from skimping or splurging on my Me Time. Having a very talkative and attention-demanding four year old (and a two year old) often leaves me feeling overstimulated and drained (read: grumpy). The need for fulfilling self-care became evident during a big move, when it was clear that our family wouldn’t survive if I didn’t make a change. And shopping alone never helped! My list of Things to Do For Myself includes every single one you listed, plus outdoor exercise. I always – always – come back from a good fresh air workout feeling strong and centered. I was very fortunate to find a fantastic group of mothers who met up twice a week to do that for ourselves with all of our littles in strollers or on bikes. It was perfect “Me Time” with absolutely zero guilt, and it motivated me to find ways to sneak in the other Things at other times in the day. We’re all happier for all of it!

  12. Rebecca

    Another INFJ who would love to see the flow chart. This post rings so true!

  13. Jem

    As a fellow INFJ, I LOVE this article. We homeschool, so there’s not a lot of spare/quiet time, but I’m working on that self care. I would love to see your hubby’s flow chart! That’s gorgeous!!

  14. Linda Sand

    When our daughter stopped napping we continued to have quiet time. She didn’t have to sleep but she had to play quietly in her room with the door closed until the timer went off. I needed that quiet time more than she did but it helped us both.

    When she got older my therapist told me to turn our guest room into a retreat with a couch, desk, and books. When that door was closed our daughter was not to knock on it unless she was vomiting or bleeding or the house was on fire. I’m so glad now that did not turn her into a bulimic or self-cutter or pyromaniac. I know more now about how children can misinterpret what we say.

  15. Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life

    I love this list. I’ve seen such a difference in my attitude on a daily basis in just making sure that I take some time in the afternoon (usually during nap time) to be quiet and alone. I also completely agree with getting in nature to be refreshed. I don’t get out in nature by myself often, but we do make it a point to get out as a family regularly. My husband is actually the one who gets out alone the most because we both make it a point to carve out time for him to do so. I can tell a huge difference in his demeanor after he returns home. He’s a fly fisherman and the places he gets to hang out are beautiful. I have to admit, sometimes I’m a little jealous of the pictures he shares 😉

  16. Kirsten Holmberg

    I’ve love to see a copy of that flowchart! I can relate (especially to the shopping part failing to feed the need). Just this morning I posted on Facebook that the quiet hours before the house awakes are my solace in the summers. As a fellow introvert, the time alone is what feeds me and cares for me best. Thanks!

  17. Toni

    Interloper here – I’m an EFNP but I still need time alone to reflect and breath and I spend a lot of time journaling to help unravel my life and try to make sense of it.

    I love the fact that you can find like- minded people who are willing to share online – people in the non-virtual (aka real) world now always seem to be so guarded and trying so hard to appear perfect! Thank you 🙂

  18. Nicole

    Hello from another INFJ…..we are few and far between so it always nice to find another one 😉
    Wonderful post and loving that it came at the perfect time. Second baby is due in 6 weeks! Love the idea of taking a friend along as often the time I think I want is alone time but I do find that really what is lacking is that inspiration.

    Thank you for being the inspiration for me today! Nicole

  19. Kim

    I just came across this blog post, and I loved it! I felt like you were putting into words exactly how I feel! I’m also an INFJ, and I homeschool our two very active boys, ages 12 and 7. Also, my husband of 17 years is a police officer, and works most evenings, weekends and holidays. He has rotating shifts and days off, and mostly works six or seven days in a row. I have to be creative and intentional about getting much needed breaks, otherwise I can become burned out really quickly.

    Something I’ve dreamed about doing for a long time is to get away by myself, like a mini-retreat, and I finally got to do it last weekend! My husband had a rare weekend off work, so he agreed to stay take care of our boys and our dog, while I went to a hotel by myself from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I was blessed to find a really great deal at a location about 30 minutes away from our home (not too far, but still felt like I was getting away a little). I spent my time reading, writing in my journal, drinking coffee and trying to just live in the moment as much as possible. It was amazing, and I really want to try to make this a yearly thing to recharge my batteries!

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