You have heard the safety spiel when your flight is getting ready to take off. Put your phone in airplane mode, keep your seat in the upright and locked position and stow your bag completely under your seat. The cheerful attendant also gives us one very valuable life lesson. In the event of loss of cabin pressure, put on your oxygen mask before helping others.
Why? Because you can't help anyone else if you yourself are not safe and well.
The issues I work on with clients go far beyond what they put on their plate. Often, clients are so busy caring for others and making sure their needs are met that their own care goes by the wayside. In other words, they aren’t putting on their oxygen mask first.
Of course what foods we put into our bodies and which nutrients we personally need for optimal health are of utmost importance, but if we don't address making our own wellbeing a priority, how can we expect our bodies to thrive? Taking care of yourself should not be a luxury – it should be the norm.
Self-care doesn’t mean that you don’t care about others. Sadly, it can often be interpreted as selfish by others or even ourselves. However, self-care is crucial for overall health and well-being... physically, mentally and emotionally. So often we feel obligated to give all our time to work, errands and taking care of others. Shifting the balance from caring for everyone else to caring for yourself first can feel uncomfortable. It's time we start talking about this more, and change the paradigm. We live in a world where being busy is expected, and a sign of success.
But if you don’t properly care for yourself, your body will let you know. The first sign is often feeling busy and stressed most of the time.
The good news is that self-care helps alleviate chronic stress! Life can be stressful. It seems we always have more
to do between work, family, school and home life. Research shows that continued and prolonged stress can lead to a weakened immune system, inflammation, weight gain, digestive distress, trouble sleeping and other health concerns. Having a tool kit of self-care strategies when stress heats up will allow you to manage stress effectively. Find what works for you! It could be a hot bath, a walk with a friend, coloring, meditation, reading a good book or any other activity that brings your stress levels down. Keep a list of these activities and choose from the list often (daily!).
To start your self-care routine, you first need to make time to do so. Ideally you make time every single day for you. This may seem overwhelming and impossible but even setting aside 15 minutes can have a huge impact. Find a time that works best for you. Perhaps you meditate in the early morning before everyone else is awake for the day or read a chapter of a book before bed. Find a time that is most convenient and stick to it.
Eating a variety of healthy foods is also part of self-care. Giving your body the nutrition it needs helps you feel better so you can do better for yourself and others. Plus, have you ever noticed that when you are stressed you are more likely to snack and eat even though you aren’t hungry? Keep healthy snacks on hand such as veggies and hummus, fruit and nuts.
Taking care of yourself is not something to push aside. It will not only make you happier and healthier but will actually allow you to better help others as well. Don’t feel guilty about caring for your mind and body! Instead, start your day by asking yourself, “What do I need to be well today?”. Put your own oxygen mask on first and see how your well-being changes.