Put your own oxygen mask on first.
Years ago, during flight attendant training, our instructors told us we needed to put our own oxygen mask first during an emergency.
The entire class struggled. We needed to save people first! Open the emergency exits! Deploy the slide for escape!
In reality, as a flight attendant, I could do none of those things if I passed out from smoke inhalation. In regard to self-care, if you don’t pause to put on your oxygen mask first, there will be no ability to live out the high calling God has given you.
Remember, there’s a difference between living selfishly and self-care.
– 5 Suggestions for Self-Care –
Write down 3 Achievable Goals for the Week. The keyword here is ACHIEVABLE. There’s nothing more debilitating than making a huge list and then ticking off only one task. Even a goal as simple as the kids are alive at the end of the day. If the kids are alive at the end of the day – check it off! Keep it realistic and straightforward, then do the thing.
Ask for help. If you’re anything like me (introverted and weird), asking for help can be difficult. However, one key to self-care is asking someone you trust to relieve you from duty to recharge. Suggestions for your self-care time include sleep (never underestimate the power of a nap!), getting a haircut, reading your Bible, listening to worship music, or going for a run. It doesn’t have to be a whole self-care event – it could be turning your bathroom into a spa for an hour. Remember, keep it simple, but do the thing.
Find a spot in your house where you can retreat when things are overwhelming – a closet, a nook, a bathroom, or garage. But a place you go when you need a breather or when you need to cry (which is self-care!) or pray. However you use it is up to you, but it should be in the same location every time. Create ownership of it and USE IT.
Create a wind-down routine. If possible (it wasn’t always possible for me during our most intense years), create an activity pattern that tells your brain and body it is time to shut down. I have a friend who faithfully uses an adult coloring book with nice markers to wind down and destress. Another option is a bathroom routine at night – taking time to shower, wash your face and use moisturizer or skin products, brush your teeth, use the floss for once. Others have favorite t.v. shows or wind down on their phones. A side note about phones: the key is to restrict social media by a specific time and only read books or articles. Studies show dopamine (the reward system) and cortisol (the stress hormone) are released in the brain during visits to social media sites, so staying off those late at night could be imperative to winding down. Remember, this is self-care!
Practice gratitude. Take the time to write down how God has blessed you and deliberately thank God for every one. When my life was at its worst, and my stress level off the charts, and God seemingly disappeared, I could still find one thing about which to be grateful. The McDonald’s worker who smiles at you every morning? Grateful. The doctor who took extra time to answer your questions? Grateful. The kiddo who usually melts down, but today the meltdown was shorter and moved faster? Grateful. If you look for these moments, they will come!
Choose one from the list above and get that oxygen mask on! Empower yourself to empower others by staying alive and staying emotionally healthy!
What are your self-care tips? What recharges your batteries? Engage with those activities!