Taking Care of Yourself First
Have you heard of the Oxygen Mask Theory? Do you know when you are on an airplane and the stewardess instructs you on how to put your oxygen mask on and they tell the responsible party to put theirs on first?
They do this because it turns out if you don’t put it on within the time frame needed, you could potentially pass out from lack of oxygen. If you don’t have yours on and you pass out, you can’t help anyone else in your family or party.
It may sound backwards initially; surely you should put the oxygen mask on the child before the adult? But this is not true. In case they can’t get it on by themselves (as a minor and probably need assistance), you need to be able to breathe to help them.
Why Taking Care of Yourself First Makes Perfect Sense
When you think about this it makes sense, if you put your oxygen mask on first then you are in a great position to be able to assist others who need it. Therefore, it is the exact opposite of a selfish act to put on your oxygen mask first.
And, many would say that self-care is the exact same way. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you are in no position – physically, mentally, or emotionally – to take care of anyone else.
Somewhere while reading this you may start to feel guilty that your taking care of yourself first is taking time away from your daily jobs, family, work, pets, etc. This is when you need to take a step back and realize the importance of your job as a caregiver.
They need you to be healthy, here and available to them. So, self-care has to be a priority.
Taking Care of Yourself First and Waiting for Permission
If you are waiting for someone else to tell you to take care of yourself; you will be waiting a very LONG time. In fact, usually when someone is to the point where we need to tell them to take care of themselves, they are already so far gone they may not be able to do it. (Tell them anyway!)
You are going to have to give yourself permission to do this whole self-care business. And, I will tell you why it is not a selfish act to do so.
If you feel you need permission to take care of yourself (which you don’t), I now give you permission. Or, if that isn’t good enough, ask any of your pets for their permission. They always say yes to me! (Just kidding)
DO NOT ask your family, significant other, or anyone else you take care of for permission, because this runs counter to what they think is in their best interests and they will likely tell you no. Remember the airplane example, put on your own oxygen mask first!
I think you will find it makes a world of difference in terms of what you then have to offer all of those wonderful souls in your care.
If you find yourself in desperate need of self-care, please see Extreme Self-Care Days for Rough Times.
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