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Putting YOU first!

I had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Easter with my family over the weekend and on the plane journey back and forth the airline attendant reminded us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, do it at least for others.

”The goal is to learn to be nurturing with yourself so you can feel free” by Deborah Day

How often do you spend time helping others with things that you don’t do for yourself? I know I’m guilty of it too but nevertheless it is always a great cue. Few situations in our daily lives imitate the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it’s easy to keep putting self-care off. Then one day you wake up sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the people who count on us.

How often do you think about how good you feel or do you just realise it when it is too late and illness kicks in. It only needs to be a headache or a cold but it has an enormous impact on us physically and mentally. That’s when we realise we haven’t been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves, taking the down time, pushing the limits, letting others look after us and most importantly looking after ourselves – mind, body and spirit. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it’s just plain practical!

Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say NO to someone else in order to say yes to you.

For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can even encourage yourself by saying “I am caring for myself so that I am able to care for others” or another mantra that will encourage you. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be composed of massively time-consuming acts.

In fact, the best prescription for taking care of yourself is probably small, daily rituals; for example, taking thirty minutes for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, write in a journal, or just be. You might also transform the occasional daily shower or bath into a thirty minute self-pampering session. Or take the time to enjoy the experience of cooking a simple yet delicious meal to meet your needs not everyone else.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” by Charles Buxton

Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in leaps and bounds for you and the ones you love. The oxygen you need is all around you; sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe.