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You can do something just for you

Question for you lovely readers: what does it mean when you’re reading a hilarious blog post by the inimitable Jen Hatmaker, laughing so hard that you’re crying, and you suddenly begin sobbing instead?

I’m talking about ugly, shoulders-shaking, snot-dripping sobbing, and your six-year-old daughter comes in and pats you on the back, saying, it’s ok, mama, it’s ok?

I’ll tell you what it means: it means you’re tired. You’re exhausted. You have probably been running on autopilot for so long that when you finally stopped and experienced some sort of strong emotion, you just lost it.

That was me last week. Ever been there? I’m sure I will be there again someday. So what do you do when you hit a wall?

Take care of yourself

It’s so easy to find ourselves putting everyone else’s needs in front of our own. I do it all the time. Self-care – what’s that?

But it is not selfish to take care of yourself. We’ve all heard it before: if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right?

I used to think about that expression in a negative light. That unhappy mama is so selfish that she’s making everybody else unhappy, too. But that’s not what it means at all.

When I am drained, or exhausted, or running around like a chicken with its head cut off, then I can’t give my family and friends the kind of love and care that they deserve. But caring for myself means that I can then care for the people I love, too.

This is not just about physical needs.

Still, some people relegate the idea of self-care to the physical realm only. Eat, sleep, bathe – check, check, check. But we all have other needs that are just as important for our sanity.

The need to be in community, the need to be creative, the need for mental stimulation and emotional fulfillment – these are not just luxuries for those of us without responsibilities and loads of free time (those people don’t exist).

If you have those needs and they’re not being met, it’s okay. We’ve all been there. But don’t stay there. Figure out what you can do to start meeting some of those needs.

Do something just for you

Me? I sing in a professional choir. I’ve been a choir geek all of my life. I love it like crazy. (I won my freshman choir officer election when I famously quipped, “Choir is my life!”) So, when I had the opportunity to join this choir, and the timing was right, I went for it. For me, it is true soul food.

I know that timing is everything. I couldn’t have done this three or four years ago. Sometimes, our physical needs really are all we can handle (and perhaps, just barely). That’s okay, too – I’ve been there. It’s just a season, I promise.

The important thing to realize is that when that season ends, you can move on. You can look deeper, and begin to address some of those unmet needs that you’ve had to put on the back burner. You can care for ALL of yourself again – not just your physical needs.

Where to begin?

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when the time is right for a change. We get stuck in ruts, and they get worn down deep into our daily life, becoming part of our identity. Don’t let that happen to you.

Talk to someone – your spouse, your best friend, your mom. Tell them what you love or what you miss or what you’re longing to try. Ask them to help you think it through – could it happen? Could you make time? Could you find the resources? What help would you need?

Then make a plan, and go for it. It will probably be hard sometimes. It won’t always run smoothly. And that’s okay, too. Life happens. But you can do something just for you.

Because – here’s the really cool part – it won’t actually be just for you. It will overflow into the rest of your life, helping you to love people better and serve people stronger.

Good self-care means your cup will be filled up, and then you’ll have plenty leftover to pour out for everyone you love.

What is it that you love or you miss or you’re longing to try? And what do you need to do to make it happen?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Sue

    This is tough. I feel like I’ve been in such a rut for so long that I can’t even figure out what I miss. I miss getting totally lost in a book for hours on end. I miss swimming competitively. I miss watching X-Files with a group of friends while chowing down on a potluck “meal” that often consisted of just appetizers and desserts. My job involves the activity I loved in college, so at least I have that going for me, but it does make it a “job”. It is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and have not been able to figure out. Thanks for the shove to figure it out though…I really do need that “something” in my life.

  2. Jennifer

    I needed this post. I have a 5.5 months son and though I love him tremendously becoming a SAHM certainly isn’t easy. I realized I haven’t been myself for about six weeks now and scheduled an appointment with my doc to test thyroid/iron/etc, talk about my feelings, and get a general physical. I also made plans for time away from baby some, time with family, girl friends, and me time to shave my legs, swim, and eat right. I also reached out to two “expert moms” ( in my opinion) and felt redeemed in the reminder that the first year is hard but I am a great Mom for my son.
    I know my house may not get cleaned as much this week, but my mental health and contentment will which is way more important!

    • Cristina

      Once a week I meet with a friend and fellow first time with our children as sitters are not an option. Its fun and cathartic. Although we don’t always finish a sentence or story, I know our time together has helped my PPD. Once I can get a sitter, I will resume dancing. I already found a studio for adults!

    • Liesl

      Hang in there and focus on the positives. I have a 7 month old and had a really hard time to the point where I was ready to go to the doctor also. I feel like I am more like myself (a little). And every day, week, month gets a bit better. You are not alone and hood job on making an action plan to get some you time. (Your house chores will be fine if skipped 😉 )

  3. Chris

    I love how you spoke of seasons. They come. They go. This type of long term thinking and perspective is key these days. As a parent, I long to get my morning meditation practice back, but while it’s gone, I’m happy with the little people in it’s place 🙂

  4. Tehila @ Women Abiding

    Wow! You’ve got me stumped with your final question after a beautiful, sincere, and honest post! I really have to think long and hard about what it is I really long to do, miss doing, for *me*! Probably because it’s been so long since I have actually pampered myself or done something I really enjoy. I am raising and home educating four little ones aged 1-11, and life is just plain hectic/busy/full on, as they say here in New Zealand!

    OK, first of all, on a small scale, I absolutely LOVE going to the cinema – by myself!! I know this is crazy unusual, but it is just one of my favourite things to do, and I truly can’t remember the last time I did it!

    On a larger scale, I want to write eBooks and eventually books! I have several serious ideas, but have just kind of concluded that this may not be the right season of life! I’m on the fence about it… but it’s something that would really give me so much satisfaction, and something I would enjoy doing immensely!

    What do I have to do to get these accomplished? Well, I’ll possibly start by taking myself to a movie once in a while… and see how that goes before I venture into large-scale-authorship!

    You have genuinely inspired and excited me!! Thank you!!! 🙂

  5. Breanne

    Good words. Doing just something has helped me immensely while navigating what I know now to post partum depresssion and burn out. Going to the coffee shop once a week to read/write/or just be quiet was one of my ‘things’.

    Remembering that I am a wife and a mom but also a person helps. I make time to read, to take pictures while my girls are at the playground.

    Such a timely, honest post, thanks Katie. =)

  6. Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha

    This is great! I joined a women’s dance group last year ~ not just exercise but a weekly class with other moms, preparing for recitals and competitions. It was fantastic me-time and connection with other women. I totally agree that our self-care needs to go beyond our basic needs for food, bathing, and exercising ~ something restorative that, as you say, fills your cup and is just for you. Great post!

  7. Marcella

    With 5 children and a 6th on the way, I feel like I’m finally learning this lesson for real!
    I wish some wise person would’ve helped me understand earlier that it is actually so helpful to the people I care for if I am feeling decently cared for.
    In some seasons it’s getting half an hour for a lavender bubble bath or giving myself permission to sit down and slowly eat my meal and send everyone out of the room! (After they’ve eaten of course.)
    Other times I go to Barnes and Noble and browse all alone. Or go for coffee with friends.
    For a more extroverted person it might look completely different of course.
    The point is to refresh and then you are more likely to be refreshing to your family!

  8. Moira

    This is so true! (And so needed!)

    Not too long ago I was having one of those days and a friend reminded me of what they tell you about the oxygen masks on airplanes. You have to get yours on first to be able to help anyone else…and I am trying to remember this when I start ignoring my well-being. I’m finding it especially hard now that it’s summer, but I’m trying!

    I used to ride horses and I’d really like to start again. I think it’s time to seriously look into it. In the meantime, I make sure I get a little downtime each day with my book and I always feel refreshed afterwards.

  9. Tanya

    It is very hard to find time for yourself. Specially when you have kids and work from home. I absolutely love to read. So whenever I find the time and chance I will pick up a book.(that I probably won’t get to finish fir quite some time)

  10. Taylor-Made Ranch

    Sometimes you can feed your soul by simply slowing down – it doesn’t have to be a grand commitment of any kind. I absolutely love to take a little time to stroll the pastures, really listening to the birds and noticing the vibrant flowers, seeing that blue sky or getting excited about finding a ripe blackberry. Everyone has their own method for slowing down, you don’t have to have acreage to do it. You can do the exact same thing walking through a neighborhood and smiling at the children playing and laughing. The key here is to SLOW DOWN if only for a short time. I find it really recharges my batteries. Great post – thanks for sharing.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  11. Christina

    Oh, what you say is so very true! I find it very hard to step back and take care of myself. I’ve found that an hour with a good book or a walk in the woods can do wonders for my emotional security and sometimes I just have to make myself do it.

  12. Maridyth

    I remember your “Choir is my life!!” speech. I’m glad you are back into it!

    I’ve thought about your question a lot over the past several months…. and the problem I am having is this: I don’t know what I would do if I had time to do anything I wanted. I know I’m in a survival season now, and I’m prayerful that when this period winds down I’ll know it because desires and dreams for myself will return. That’s what I hope for.

    Thanks for the post. I had a melt-down cry today, and I thought, “wow, you haven’t done that in a while.” It’s good, and I’m blessed.

  13. Tamara @ This Sacramental Life

    I keep learning more things I like about you. Great post filled with true words…thank you!

  14. Gabriella

    Thank you for this honest and beautiful post, it hits me harder than i thought and I ended crying too

  15. Cate Pane

    I really needed to read this post today! In the past six weeks, I have dealt with a chronic illness, two dear friends who lost their fathers, celebrating a Confirmation, celebrating a Graduation, my mother-in-law falling and fracturing her patella on the way to my son’s graduation, two friends saying very hurtful things when they were under stress (all is forgiven), the discovery of a HORRIBLE secret in my family of origin, … It has all been too much! My blog is definitely therapeutic. My needlepoint is therapeutic, as is reading. I went away ALONE for three days. That was definitely therapeutic. I am simply running on empty from the sacrifice of motherhood.

    Today, I just need a day by the pool with my favorite pool partner. We lounge by the pool, chat, swim laps, and tread water while we chat. She is a soul friend. It is too early to text her, but when I can, I will.

    Thank you, Katie, for your excellent blog!

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