Updated: May 17
By Suzanna Mannion
“In the event there’s a change in cabin pressure, be sure to place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others,” said a flight attendant somewhere. The reason for prioritizing your mask is because if you run out of oxygen first, you can’t help those depending on you. For some folks, it’s easier to prioritize self care when there is a crisis, but what about the majority of the time when there is no crisis yet you yearn for (and need!) time to yourself; to decompress without concern for anybody else? Days and weeks blur past as you respond to seemingly endless demands from all directions of your life. You continuously dismiss your own needs and catch yourself saying “Once I get past next week’s ________, maybe I can set aside time to ________,” but next week comes and goes and you’re still burning the candle at both ends.
Even well intending and healthy minded folks find themselves run down when they serially dismiss their needs to serve others. To avoid eventual burnout (and possibly resentment towards ourselves for giving too much to others), we must work towards finding balance in our lives and learn how to value our needs as much as we do others.
If you struggle to prioritize your needs, you may be wondering how to get started.
Start with taking small steps. It’s important to recognize that self care doesn’t look a certain way. It doesn’t necessitate emptying out your piggy bank for a lavish day at a spa, or staying at a 5-star resort. Self care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health” (Oxford Dictionary). It exists in innumerable forms and can be as simple as taking a stroll around the neighborhood, catching some sun at a park, practicing yoga or meditation, setting boundaries around screen time, catching up with a friend or indulging in a show of your choosing. Or, maybe it’s you gracefully declining an invitation and instead, savoring that time to yourself.
Not sure what you like to do?
Write down five to 10 activities that bring you joy. As you come up with these activities, sense what thoughts and feelings surface. Now challenge yourself to set aside time for one act of self care per day. If that is too much, try once per week. With each achievement, celebrate your efforts!
Simply bringing awareness to your needs is an act of self care and self love in itself and a step in the right direction. If you struggle with follow-through, consider hiring a skilled coach or a friend who is willing to serve as an accountability partner.
Did this article inspire you to step up your self care efforts? Send me an email and let me know what you put into action.