If you’ve flown on any commercial airline you’ve heard the safety presentation offered prior to takeoff…
If there is a drop in cabin pressure panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. If this happens pull a mask towards you until the tube is fully extended. Place the mask over your nose and mouth. Slip the elastic strip over your head and adjust the mask if necessary. Breathe normally and note that oxygen is flowing even if the bag doesn’t inflate. Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.
It’s that last line that strikes most people oddly… Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others. Why do you suppose they have to say that? I believe it is because most people traveling with a loved one, at least, would be inclined to want to help their spouse or child first. But why is it important to adjust our masks first?
The obvious answer is that if we are incapacitated we can’t possibly help anyone else. So we have to be safe and secure before we can make others safe or secure. But how many of us live our daily lives that way? How many fathers, mothers, teachers, doctors, nurses, or even counselors put themselves first, ever? If this counselor is any indication, not very many. So many of us take our personal well-being for granted, and we run ourselves into the ground taking care of those around us. We forget to adjust our masks first.
There is a stigma around self-care that needs to be dispelled, and I think the airline safety presentation offers good insight into breaking that stigma… it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself. Not only is it not selfish, it should be encouraged as it is vitally important to the role you play at home, in your relationships, or in the workplace.
If you are a parent, the wellbeing of your children, both present and future is influenced by your own wellbeing. The decisions you make regarding your own happiness or stress or eating or exercise make lasting impacts on your children. Not to mention that not taking care of yourself could lead to a less productive or shortened life, leaving your children without a beloved parent.
If you are in a relationship, you want to put your best foot forward. Taking care of yourself, adjusting your own mask first, allows you to consistently do that. It allows you to be the best version of yourself and your partner deserves that. So do you.
Regardless of your role(s) in life, taking care of yourself allows you to take care of those you love and serve. So what is self-care? Self-care is anything you do that allows you to feel better, in any way. Self-care might be a walk around the block, or a hot bath, or a workout at the gym, or meditation, or journaling, or listening to music, a book, or a podcast. Self-care can be as simple as talking with a friend or loved-one, or as complex as going on a 3-day trek up the Appalachian Trail.
The beauty of self-care is that it is your unique way of taking care of you so that you can be the best version of yourself. So if you haven’t adjusted your oxygen mask lately, if you are feeling the stress and strain of life, when should you start? Now. Start taking care of yourself today.
If you need help getting started, LifeCare is here to help. We offer counseling for those who are feeling down or stressed, for those that need help with their work or their families. We also offer coaching for those that want to begin setting goals and working towards them. Call today to get started. There is no time like right now.