Put your mask on first; before helping others
There is a reason why every airplane safety demonstration makes this claim. Let’s think about what it really translates to. During an emergency situation an oxygen mask will fall out of the overhead compartment. You are to take a mask and put it on, ensuring that you are able to get oxygen and breathe. Once you ensure that you are able to breathe, next you should turn to help others, family members, friends, and strangers around you. Now, if you didn’t put your mask on first and started to help others with their mask, what would happen to you? Obviously, you will not be taking in any oxygen and you will eventually pass out and you can die, if you don’t receive oxygen in an adequate amount of time.
What exactly am I getting at here? Well this concept sums up what most individuals tend to be doing to themselves on a daily basis. Although, I believe it’s clearly unintentional, nonetheless it’s still occurring. Most individuals are not putting on their mask first and eventually they become depleted of oxygen. Self care and prioritizing one’s self is major, if you are to move forward in a healthy manner.
Recently on my YouTube podcast, Real Talk with Renisher, I spoke with one of my guests about finding what gives one pleasure. As a “Pleasure Coach” she broke it down as to how hard this concept is for most individuals to wrap their minds around. Adults especially feel that they need permission to have fun and enjoy life, without the guilt. I have heard this time and time again, most individuals have no problem doing things for others, but when it comes to themselves, they will often put it off, or just break their plans altogether.
Statements like these are so sad for me to hear, as I know how hard these individuals work and give to their families willingly and are so often depleted as they fail to do the same for themselves. There is a strong sense of guilt around relaxing, taking it easy, watching television etc. Research states that women have a higher prevalence than men to endorse these types of guilty feelings, as they are seen as the primary caregiver.
What can be done to change this dilemma? Let’s explore. What is self care and what are we really talking about here? According to my google search, self care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Taking an active role in protecting your own well being especially in times of stress. It also mentions the seven pillars of self care which are your mental, physical, emotional, environmental, spiritual, recreational and social. These areas are vital for an individual to have and enjoy the various aspects of life.
It’s crucial to recognize that a well balanced life is priceless, being present as opposed to passive interactions that most individuals tend to engage in are also hard to achieve, or so it seems. Lack of taking care of yourself can lead to burnout, extreme fatigue, dissatisfaction in life, resentments and health issues to name a few, including stress. Research shows that those who are less satisfied in their life, often display a negative connotation towards life overall. There’s a saying that goes like this, “ work hard, play harder”, sadly more adults continue to work hard, but ignore the playing harder part.
Why is this so important, especially in today’s society? With the higher than usual work demands that has become our norm here in the US especially, makes it even more necessary to carve out time for self care. I hear this a great deal in my practice “ I just don’t have time “, this includes not having time to eat a proper balanced meal, working out, and engaging in self care. Our culture has become consumed by work and this takes up most of our time, including any spare time. Self sabotaging habits, such as eating lunch in front of the computer, not taking adequate breaks, and my favorite, bringing work home and working way past scheduled work time, have become the norm and by default our expectations have shifted.
Trying to break these bad self depleting habits have become an ongoing struggle for many. With any bad habit, it’s almost impossible to break, without it being a constant battle. Our culture is partially to blame for some of this, but we also have a huge part to play as well.
How to prioritize yourself without the guilt: This is not a comprehensive list or guide to self care, but simply a starting point. You have to know your self worth. This is very important, but quite difficult for many people to put into perspective. You will have to see yourself as being a valuable individual that deserves to have and enjoy a well balanced life. It starts with you examining yourself. You have to find/see the value in yourself. What is important to you right now, not later? Would allowing yourself 15/20 minutes or longer a day to take a time out benefit you?, if the answer is yes, then you will have to re- prioritize some things in your life, with you being at the very top of the list this time around.
You will have to be consistent in doing this, breaking bad habits doesn’t happen overnight, so you will have to do this daily, making it a daily routine. Starting with seeing the value in yourself and knowing what you deserve daily. I tell my clients all the time, your reward for hard work at your job is more work. The workload doesn’t end, that’s why it’s called work. You take the opportunity to rearrange your day, by making sure that you are not drowning in work. If that simply means eating lunch away from your desk during your lunch break, then start there.
Take baby steps. again breaking a bad habit doesn’t happen overnight. Start where you are and remain consistent. It’s the little things that will make a difference and eventually lead to the bigger ones. You deserve the best and it’s up to you to prioritize yourself. Burnout is real and it can also lead to health issues, if not addressed in a timely manner. Self care is no longer the once in a while mani pedi, instead it’s a lifestyle. With demanding jobs and work loads, you will also have to prioritize your self care in maintaining a healthy work life balance.
In conclusion, just note that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will eventually become depleted. Your mask has to go on first if you want to help those around you. It’s that important, it’s no longer an option. The demands on life have become more and more rigorous, leaving us less time to breathe. This is why you have to “take the time”, because you will never “find the time”, since we both know that there just isn’t enough time in any given day, for all the things that have to get done.