Jessica Capshaw is an actress and wife, mother, maker, doer and a producer living in Los Angeles, California with her husband (our founder, Christopher Gavigan) and four children, Luke, Evie, Poppy, Josephine and dog, Gus.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care to me means doing anything that helps regulate me — anything that makes me feel balanced, focused, soft and kind… things that help me tune out the noise or the voices that don’t serve me, or that are in active opposition to me. So doing anything that keeps me in that zone is self-care to me.
When we went away for the holidays, there was a ton of travel and family time, and not a lot of alone time. And since I consider myself a half-introvert, not having any time alone, you lose a little bit of how you recharge in that way. So when the kids went back to school and Christopher went back to work, the first thing I did was make a plan for how to do a couple things on my own that were just for me to fill up my bucket. A lot of the self-care was focused on control — controlling my environment, controlling my space, and regulating. The next day, I felt immensely stronger.
"Sometimes self-care is physical and it can mean going on a hike with someone or no one. Sometimes it’s organizing my desk or reading a book, or getting a little clarity and setting my intentions. Sometimes it’s figuring out and putting a name to the things that I want to let go of."
What products do you use?
I always start my day with some sort of kiss or hug: either Christopher or one of my kids gets to me first. Then I always brush my teeth. I like to wash my face in the morning; I’ve been committed to skincare since I was twenty-one. I have some favorite products and will try new things when someone that I trust highly recommends it.
I really love the line, Sjal, so I’ve been using their face wash, energy tonic and serum. I also use the GOOP Luminous Melting Cleanser, and it’s sort of like a balm that emulsifies in your hand and feels so soft and yummy. Retrouve also has a really beautiful cleanser. As an actress, you wear so much makeup so you have to wash your face a couple of times. I enjoy having something that can really break down whatever has been on my face, and then I get a really hot washcloth and wring it out and wipe my face.
In the morning I put on the Sjal serum and go! I don’t wear makeup unless I’m working or going out and I want a lil’ sparkle! I also really love the Agent Nateaur line, so I’ll use their rose spritz and holi (oil) when I’m feeling in the dry side. And then obviously all throughout the day I’m always applying...sunscreen!!
At night, it’s pretty much the same, but if I have extra time there are some masks that I’ve been trying out. Between Christopher and I, we’re as moisturized as we can be — I worry about our pillows!
I always drink a big glass of water when I wake up. I’m not really a breakfast person, so I’ll have an almond milk latte or an almond milk matcha. I didn’t use to like almond milk and I was very committed to my dairy-full morning latte. But then, I started making my own almond milk and it was a complete game changer! Almond milk in my coffee, in my tea and then -my favorite- almond milk and banana smoothies!! However much I loved Haagen Dazs ice cream as a kid, I like my almond milk and banana smoothies even more!! When I did the Whole 30 Program in the Fall, I started making them and it’s been a game changer. After completing that program I genuinely felt that my cravings for processed sugar were gone.
I don’t sit at a desk; I’m on the go at all times. I find that eating is a challenge, because the things that are best for you are hard to eat on the go. Dinner, I always end up making dinner for the kids, and weirdly enough when I make dinner for them I’m not hungry. Christopher and I will usually have a soup, salad, pasta or a yummy coconut curry with cauliflower rice. We also have about ten restaurants that we love and trust, so we’ll use Postmates, or we’ll go out.
How do you find balance amidst the chaos?
I deeply believe in the long game — and setting your intentions in terms of values and goals accordingly. So I don’t know that I believe in balance within any single small unit — it’s more about striving towards balance in the bigger one. But some days, I have the room and time and bandwidth to put all of my focus on being the most awesome mom, but that may mean that I’m a terrible actress — my focus may not be there, I may not be able to get my lines right, I may struggle to understand a scene, I may feel like I’m not present. And when I go to bed that night I have to forgive myself for that day, whatever I saw as not ideal, because I know that I succeeded somewhere else... But then there will be another day where I’m working 17 hours and I didn’t get to be there for my kids, but I may have gotten a thrill and a sense of accomplishment that I’m not able to get anywhere else than in my workplace. Again, as long as no one got hurt, my not being able to be a successful mom that day didn’t take away from my balance — it’s part of it all.
It’s also involving the people in your life who you love. It’s being able to communicate. I know couples who have outlines for when either one of them gets home, to give each other like 20 minutes before asking any questions — twenty minutes before you ask anything of the person — because it’s a transition, and transitions should be honored. And I think that has some value.
"Transitions need to be honored more than they are... we are all rushing around."
How do you sustain self-love and how has that changed with motherhood?
I am very hard on myself — and I think challenging yourself and holding yourself to a high expectation is a really beneficial tool. But I did notice right when I was starting my career... I would go on auditions all the time, and at any given day, there would be multiple times where I would say something to myself that was very unkind. I was reserving this super-critical voice for myself, and it was breaking me down. It was not making me better or more capable, and it was hard. Once I identified it, and understood that it was something I wanted to let go, it started to fade.
When I became a mother, a similar thing happened happened — but with anxiety, with worry. Because now, all of a sudden, you’ve grown a child in your body and it’s now living outside of your body, and it’s all foreign to you. All you want to do is keep them alive and thriving, and what comes with that is worry, asking yourself if you are doing certain things right or wrong, or how you are doing. For me, adopting the same philosophy really helped — the self-talk, telling myself that everything was going to be okay.
When you tell yourself enough times that things are going to be okay and they are, you start to trust yourself more.
We as a culture put so much on what our exterior looks like, so the critical voice usually takes form as “I don’t like this or that about myself,” and it just doesn’t seem quite fair. I think that trying to get rid of that voice is an act of self-love and understanding that there are so many different things that people are attracted to.
"I’m so lucky that I live in a world where I am around so many mindful people — people who are curious and wanting to be in this growth mindset, and wanting to be patient and better and understand someone else’s perspective and point of view. I don’t think that’s the majority right now, but I hope that becomes a little bit more contagious."
What’s one thing that you wish you could tell your younger self?
I just had one this morning. I said to Evie, “People talk a lot about setting boundaries, but I don’t think you can understand what that means unless you are given a real world example.” I believe that some people are really skilled at feeling their feelings and dealing with their feelings, but when they come in contact or in dialogue with someone else who has feelings, they don’t have as easy access to them. And then I think there are people who have really easy access to other people’s feelings, and really feel other people’s feelings as their own. We define it in a very easy way by saying they “take things personally.”
I was talking to my daughter about this because she’s someone that can feel other people’s feelings. So I was talking to her about how to set differences, between her feelings and someone else’s feelings. And how you can feel how someone else is feeling without it affecting how you are feeling. And how profoundly important that is.
I just know that for such a long period of my life, I took things personally that I really could have spared myself of. And I still do, but less. I think that we live in a “me” world, and an extension of “me” is me thinking everything you’re doing is about "me," but it’s not. So figuring that out, and then also figuring out your landscape of people who you know and love and how they relate to that feeling — and how you can be aware of that, and be sensitive to it.
What’s your favorite uplifting quote that you keep with you?
I say this all of the time because I have perfectionist tendencies that can motivate me but they can also debilitate me. As someone who likes to have things neat and tidy, who also has 4 kids and a work life it’s been challenging for me to have patience and to appreciate the process. This quote really speaks to me:
“In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
It makes sense to me. It takes the finite nature out of it. It allows you to ask, "What is the infinite and what is the finite?" The infinite is the field that can be replanted infinitely. The finite is that crop, that year, that can’t go on forever. But if growing that crop destroys the land, making it barren and unable to be sustained, then it really was a finite game. Parenting is infinite. So I keep that one with me.
Editor's notes: interview conducted on January 29, 2019 and edited for length and clarity.