Give yourself oxygen first.
We’ve all been told this, right? Especially parents or caregivers or professional helpers. It’s related to the airplane safety guidelines that flight attendants announce at the beginning of every flight
When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why? Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else with their oxygen mask.
It’s a simple metaphor. It’s powerful, and it’s true. But how often do we take the time to think about exactly WHAT our oxygen is? What are the things that we need to do to keep ourselves safe, strong, and breathing so that we can give our best service to the people around us?
I decided to think about this in my quest for everyday self-care. I am not great at self-care, which is one of the reasons why I write about it constantly. And I am ESPECIALLY not good at everyday self-care – just the little things we do (or don’t do) on regular days to keep ourselves healthy and well. Like NOT eating bedtime candy. Or drinking water so I don’t get dehydrated. (Note: getting up to grab a drink of water right now!)
If I’m going to give myself oxygen first, I have to know what I need. And the same is true for all of us. I sat down one day last week and I scribbled these words on a piece of paper: Writing. Sleep. Healthy food + diet. Reading. Conversations with friends. Meetings. Time to putter around. Running. Time outdoors + nature. Adventures. Doing something new. Travel.
I am pretty good at making time for things I need to do for self-care. But we can’t make time to give ourselves oxygen unless we know what we need. What’s your oxygen?