If you’ve ever flown on an airplane in your life I’m sure you have heard the following words:
“If the cabin air pressure changes dramatically, oxygen masks might fall from the ceiling directly in front of you. Follow the airline’s instructions in operating their masks. If a child is seated beside you, put on your own mask before helping to put a mask on the child.”
It is standard protocol that flight attendants recite these safety instructions to all passengers before takeoff. There’s a reason why. Your job, first and foremost, is to help yourself and take care of your own needs. Hence why the flight attendants encourage you to secure your oxygen mask first. When you ensure your own safety, you have a better chance of saving others: your family member, your child/children, the other people you’re traveling with, or another passenger. If you try to put the mask on someone else first, chances are you’re going to pass out before you can even get their mask on them. You and the person you want to help have both lost.
The moral here is: You have to make sure you are taken care of first, and THEN you can effectively help others.
Whether it’s in your line of work, with family, friends, or anything else, we sometimes find ourselves giving and giving, and helping and sacrificing for others until we’re drained with nothing left. As someone who works in the nonprofit sector and is currently a Human Services major, I know how demanding it is to dedicate your life and career to helping others, and I take pride in it. We all have a common goal of ultimately wanting to make a difference in the lives of others. This doesn’t just apply to someone in nonprofit, I think it’s true for most people. Many want to make a difference in the lives of their friends and families, or in their community. Striving to do so, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the expectations and responsibilities that may carry.
Have you ever found yourself realizing you’ve committed to too many things but not wanting to drop any and disappointment someone, so you just let it kill you?
Have you ever stayed late at work because your boss asked, but you really needed to be resting?
Have you ever said yes to something or someone you didn’t have time for because it was your friend or family member?
Do you see where I’m going with these questions???
If any of this sounds familiar to you, or brings up your own scenario, you probably consider yourself to be selfless, giving, and helpful. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I wish all of humanity possessed these traits, but self care has to be your priority.
As indulgent as the phrase “self care” may sound, it starts with just a few basic habits that are crucial to your functioning. Making sure you get enough sleep, making sure you take time every day to dedicate to yourself; reading a book, taking a nice long bath. Those are some of the many basic things you can do to elevate your mindset, and mental and physical health.
Sometimes taking care of yourself often begins with saying “no” to others, and “yes” to yourself. That can sometimes invoke feelings of guilt because you’ve had to turn down helping or doing something for someone so you can enjoy that much needed nap;
but don’t apologize for making yourself a priority!
A better me, is a better me for me AND you!
You have to be a little selfish at times to be completely unselfish when it counts.
As a woman, I relate to naturally being expected to be a nurturer, a giver, selfless. This school of thought of woman expectancies and our “role” has been passed down through generations. We see our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and neighbors take care of their family, friends and significant others, and plop down tired at the end of the day. Who takes care of them?? We see them constantly putting themselves last and everyone else first. We watch them end up putting their health and well being onto the back burner to please others, and we tend to end up in that cycle ourselves. That doesn’t truly help you and in the long run it has its consequences. I’ve learned from my experience (and theirs) that helping others is almost impossible to achieve if you are going through turbulence in your own life.
When you’re in an angry space, the last thing you want to do is put on a smile for others.
When you’re in a negative mindset, you’re unable to make a positive impact on others because you are consumed by your own issues.
When you’re unhappy, you don’t have the will to try to make someone else’s day, or hear about someone else’s problems, because you’ve got your own problems to worry about.
When you’re TIRED, what energy do you have to put into someone else?? You aren’t doing anyone any favors by not showing up for them fully because you’re exhausted.
You are absolutely useless to anyone else if you are depleted and gasping for the time and energy you’ve completely given away before you’ve met your own needs.
What can be poured out of an empty cup? Nothing.
What happens to a battery you never charge? It doesn’t work!
You will get to the point where taking care of others will consciously, or unconsciously, feel like a huge burden if you aren’t taking care of yourself as well, and will eventually lead to resentment. This isn’t good for anyone and this is what harms relationships.
I am a “me time” cheerleader. I always put myself first because when I am full of energy and happy, it spews out to everyone around me; at work, at home, wherever. When I’m walking around with a smile, I’m brightening people’s day, and I’m present and able to help and be my best self. I’ve also realized that on the other hand, when I am doing too much, I end up complaining about all those things and blaming them, when I should be looking at myself. Self care isn’t just important, it’s crucial. It’s the number one driving force of all around healthy living.
Self care is the best care. Put your own oxygen mask on, then you can assist others. THEN you can be fruitful at work without over exerting and burning out.
THEN you can do favors for your friends and loved ones without regretting that you agreed to do it.
THEN you can continue to make your positive impact.
It has to be done in that order or you will end up burned out with no energy left for yourself.
Everyone I know, myself included, can do with a little bit more self care and self love. Where do you begin? That’s a question a lot of people have because they assume self care means go out and shop, or take a day off work for a spa day. Those are great (seriously!) but it can be much simpler. You might know exactly what it is you need to do for you that you have been neglecting. If not, or you just need motivation, I want to share these two posts that really highlight the importance of self care and the simple ways you can start to show yourself more attention. I hope they inspire you to take care/ better care of yourselves so you can live your best life and in turn inspire and be better for those around you.
50 ways to Practice Self Care
Help Yourself Before Helping the World
P.S I watched a video last week of an interview on the Humans of NY facebook series. It is an older woman proclaiming how much she loves herself first, and then she loves you second, and I said “who found this video of me in the future??!” Lol. Her words really spoke to me because it is exactly what I believe when it comes to self care and putting myself first. Check her out, seniors are the precious gems in this world, they carry all the wisdom 🙂 Video