If you have ever traveled on an airplane before, you recall there is a safety briefing before take off. “Please fasten your seat belts, and in the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Please secure your mask first, then assist others.”
This post is about securing your mask first, before assisting others. In other words, it is about self-care.
What is self-care?
Self-care includes any intentional actions you take, to take care of physical, mental and emotional health. It helps you feel healthy, relaxed and ready to take on the world.
When you don’t check-in with yourself, you don’t know how you are feeling, because you are constantly doing, doing doing, and usually you are doing things for others, and not for yourself.
It is good to take time off to tune in and work out what makes YOU feel good. What makes YOU smile. What brings YOU joy. When your mood is improved, you are able to take better care of others.
A lot of people do not practice self care because:
– they think it is selfish, weak or indulgent
– that will interfere with their time with their family or their work,
– they feel unworthy of their own free time and attention
– they feel that self-care is something that comes after all the to-do’s are ticked off the list
– they feel that the needs of others are more important than their own
Whatever the reason, this much is true: If you cheat yourself out of self-care, this most important form of oxygen, it will catch up with you. Because no one can hold their breath forever.
The opposite of self-care is self-neglect
The following may sound familiar to you…
– You live in auto-pilot, or like a robot: Wake up, go to work, eat, sleep – REPEAT
– You zone out in front of the TV, or on the internet for hours
– You eat food without really even looking at it or tasting it.
– You use food, alcohol, sex, drugs, or other substances to disconnect from your reality
– You Skip meals.
– You don’t get enough sleep.
– You dont take sick days when you’re sick.
– You dont take holidays or regular breaks when you’re working for extended periods
– You dont set appropriate boundaries at work or at home, and you end up doing everything for others, and nothing for yourself
All of this self-neglect is costing you a lot:
– your happiness
– your health
– your productivity.
When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself
How can you practice self-care?
If self-care is something you are not used to practicing, it can take a bit of getting used to. Here are some ways you can incorporate self-care into your life:
1. Make time for it – Set aside some time to practice self-care. You might want to set aside a few minutes each day to do something which makes you feel good and relaxed.
2. Don’t double-book – If a friend or co-worker wants you to see them or do something for them during your self-care time, tell them that you are busy. And you are busy.. busy looking after yourself!
3. Learn to switch off – This can be hard, especially if you are used to thinking about your work problems at home, but self-care is the time where you focus only on YOU! If it’s hard for you, try doing something which diverts your attention, like reading a book, or solving a puzzle
4. Learn some quick fixes – If you are short on time, Breathing exercises and stretching are a great way to practice self-care, as they can be done in a few minutes, and pretty much anywhere!
Life is not supposed to be all about taking care of other people and ticking things off your to do list. Life is about nourishing your soul, and doing things that makes you happy. Otherwise, you are miserable and so is everyone around you. Not forgetting to mention your self-esteem and confidence level is down on the floor.
Self care is not selfish. Keep in mind that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Self-care is the best healthcare. Self care is not about self-indulgence. It is about self-preservation.
I hear a lot people saying they don’t have time to practice self-care. The day has 1440 minutes. 10 minutes is a tiny fraction of your day! Please, take at least 10 minutes a day to self care , preferably more. Because you are worth it.
Remember one thing: if you don’t secure your mask first, you will run out of breath!