When you think of self care, what thoughts come to mind? 10 years ago, I would think of lectures about how important it was, but it appeared that no one really followed through. I used to think of how I don’t have time for self care, and that it’s “ideal” but not necessary. Well…over the past years, my thought process, and my value on self care has changed for me. Self care is important, in fact, it’s vital to everyone’s well-being. For those of you who have been in counseling with me, or been under supervision / consultation you know this. For those who haven’t…here’s my thoughts on self care.
Imagine you are on a plane. You’re getting ready to take off – what is the flight attendant saying? They go over where the bathroom is, reminding you to stay in your seat, and safety procedures such as: here is how to buckle your seat belt, here are where the emergency exits are. And then you hear “if the cabin loses air pressure, oxygen masks will fall, place the mask on yourself and then help others around you.” If you are put in the situation, what would your first reaction be? Put the mask on yourself or help someone next to you? For most, the initial (and wrong) reaction to hearing this is, that they will help others first, their kids, their spouse, the elderly person next to you. Fortunately we are wrong, and the airline industry has it right – if you avoid putting your mask on first, you will struggle to breathe, therefore you won’t be helping anyone around you OR yourself. Most likely you’ll lose consciousness.
Why is it important to take care of ourselves? If not, it leads to burn out, and feeling overwhelmed. An example I was told in a graduate counseling class, about self care, is that we are like our cars. To avoid breaking down, our cars need regular maintenance, whether that be putting gas in the car, rotating the tires, changing the oil, or cleaning it. We too, can break down if we don’t regularly take care of ourselves and refuel from time to time! So what are some ways to take care of ourselves? Well, each person is different, what works for me, may not work for you. It’s important for individuals to find what works best for themselves.
Here are some ideas…
- Go for a walk on your lunch break
- Listen to your favorite music on the way to work
- If you are spiritual, attend services on a regular basis
- Eat lunch with a friend or a colleague
- Play with your pet
- Say “NO” to additional tasks from time to time, to avoid putting too much on your plate
- Take an extra long shower, or a relaxing bubble bath
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages
- Get adequate sleep
- Receive a massage
- Leaving work on time
- Take a vacation!
I’m curious, what are your oxygen masks in life, what do YOU do, that allows you to take care of yourself?
I will be collecting suggestions over the next few weeks, and I’ll try to post the “finalized” list.
Have a fantastic weekend!