Do you put your own oxygen mask on first?
You know when you’re flying and how they during the safety demonstration always say for parents and other adults to put their own oxygen mask on first before helping others?
Well, most of us probably think that it makes sense. After all, we won’t be any use to anyone if we pass out or die ourselves, will we?
But do you put your oxygen mask on first in the real world too? Where you’re not up in the air, but living your everyday life with your feet firmly on the ground?
I have a feeling a lot of people don’t.
I know I didn’t.
And I know plenty of women who don’t.
We prioritise everyone else but ourselves.
Not only are we just as ‘worthy’ as everyone else, but even if we do feel like we are only here to serve others, how can we, in the long run, help others if we ourselves are crashing to the ground?
How can we be there to help and support family, friends, co-workers and anyone else, when we’ve “hit the wall”, ended up injured, depressed or seriously ill?
We give so much to others and so little to ourselves.
Looking after yourself is not selfish, it’s a necessity. Because we matter too!
You matter, I matter.
In my case it became very real when our boys were diagnosed with autism and the realisation that they, or at least our youngest, probably will never be able to live an independent life. He will most likely always need help and support in some way, shape or form, through out his life. This is scary as hell. (and this is not me being ‘negative’, this is me being realistic)
And even though I won’t be able to guarantee I’ll be there for him for the rest of his life, I will do my absolute best to be here for him for as long as possible. And that means, I have to stay healthy and mentally strong.
I won’t be any good to my children if my health deteriorates and I end up in hospital, or even if I can’t get out of bed. I won’t be any good to them if my depression is so bad I stay under a blanket all day. I won’t be any good if I’m so stressed I don’t have the time or energy to play and interact with them. And I certainly won’t be any good to my family if I’m not even here in a few years!
This goes for everyone of course, parent or not.
Because the ONLY person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with is yourself. So you should prioritise yourself. It is not ‘selfish’. It’s a necessity to make sure you have a strong foundation.
Look after yourself.
Self care every day.
Not just after an accomplishment or once you’ve finished what ever project you’re on, or once you’ve taken care of everyone else’s needs.
What about your needs?
Aren’t you important?
So what is self care?
I’d say it’s what ever you can do to look after yourself and your physical, mental and emotional health.
You do not have to whisk off to a three week yoga retreat in the name of ‘self care’, but maybe you can make sure you fit in a regular yoga class in your week? (if yoga is what you like to do of course)
Just make sure it’s not just another thing you add to your never-ending ‘to-to-list’
Do the things you enjoy to recharge. Go for a walk, a run, have a bath, put your feet up, enjoy the sunshine in your garden. It could also be saying ‘No’ to something you don’t want to do. What ever makes you breathe a bit easier. It is not indulgent and it is not meant to be an ‘emergency care’ that you do once you’re overwhelmed and stressed out. Prioritise self care every damn day.
A few years ago my self care meant going to therapy every week. It might not have been all that enjoyable at the time, but by prioritising my mental health then meant that in the long run I would be able to be a better parent, spouse and friend. (and a better version of myself)
Today, most days my self care involves meditation, movement (a workout, a walk, yoga) a cup of tea in peace and quiet and healthy eating. Without these things I do not feel grounded, and I feel like I can not give all of myself if I haven’t prioritised some self care in my day.
Put your oxygen mask on first. THEN you can deal with everything thrown at you so much better. Because you’ve got the foundations in place.
What do you do to take care of yourself?