Self Care – Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
“In the unlikely event of an emergency,” flight attendants tell us at the start of every flight, “oxygen masks will appear in front of you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. If you’re traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first and then assist the other person.”
At first blush, saving yourself first might seem like an act of selfishness. The truth, though, is if we pass out from lack of oxygen, we’re unable to help those around us.
This principle also applies to life in general. Self-care is not a matter of selfishness or ego. Taking care of our own needs on a consistent basis leads to better mental health, greater productivity and richer relationships with family, friends and professional colleagues.
Self-care – sometimes referred to as holding space for yourself – comes in many different forms. The point is that these activities refresh and energize, provide us with emotional and creative outlets and, in the end, satisfy our needs first.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. Life, family and work are all demanding. People routinely place the wishes and wants of others above their own. Over time, they might even forget what it was that made them feel whole.
Here are 6 Ways to Practice Self-care
1. Exercise – it seems simple and it is. Regular exercise, such as yoga, has physical and mental benefits, as does biking, jogging or even long walks. Exercise produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible, at least in part, for feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
2. Sleep – getting the right amount and type of sleep is vital. While each person is different, the Mayo Clinic suggests that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Try arranging your schedule so you go to bed each night at the same time. This creates a pattern for your body to follow.
3. Meditate – quieting your mind every day can work wonders for restoring focus and relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are tons of resources on how to practice meditation, from apps for smartphones, websites and books on the topic.
4. Eat healthy – a good diet not only energizes our bodies, it can also be a source of joy and accomplishment. Seeking out farmer’s markets for the freshest fruits and vegetables, as well as creating a recipe for a delicious and nutritious meal is an excellent form of self-care.
5. Have some “alone” time – being by ourselves doesn’t have to be lonely. It can be a time to reflect on the day, on your goals or it can be spent going to a movie by yourself or finding a quiet nook to enjoy a book. A little solitude or “me time” where the focus is doing something you enjoy, makes for a happier person.
6. Play – this means different things to different people. For a parent who works long hours or travels a lot, this can be taking extra time with family in whatever way possible. For another, play might be taking a pottery or art class, doing something they’ve always wanted to learn and enriching their life in the process.
Remember, take a moment to place your oxygen mask on over your nose and mouth, secure it tightly and breathe normally before assisting others. After all, you’re doing them a favor by taking care of yourself first.
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