Self-Care – Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

With each new bubble bath or skincare product designed to help you indulge in “me time,” self-care has become a mantra in the health and wellness industry.

While cosmetics can be part of your self-care routine, self-care means recognizing and nurturing your personal needs in your daily life. Being attuned to your voice is the healthiest, most nourishing activity for yourself and those around you.

Today, we talk about the importance of practicing self-care.

What Is Self-Care and Why Is it Important?

Self-care is being mindful of how you feel emotionally, physically, and mentally. It requires honestly assessing if you’re feeling depleted and taking steps to recharge yourself.

Doing this will make you more capable of offering care and compassion to others around you.

A fitting analogy is that of the oxygen mask. Airplanes come equipped with an oxygen mask for each passenger that will pop out if the cabin pressure drops.

Flight attendants always instruct us to wear the mask before helping others wear theirs. Why? Because without oxygen, you would become incapacitated and unable to support anyone else. In other words, to be fully capable of supporting and caring for others, you must first take care of yourself.

Taking a walk in the woods to recharge when there are dishes to do and homework to check may sound selfish or too indulgent. However, if we don’t take the time to recharge, we’ll eventually exhaust ourselves, hurting most of the ones closest to us.

Forms of Self-Care

The way you renew your sense of well-being is personal. Let’s look at some forms of self-care.

Emotional Self-Care

While it’s often easy to tell if you’re feeling physically weak or tired, it can be more challenging to assess the state of your emotions.

Consider how recent events or situations that affected your personal life might have triggered certain feelings or reactions within you. In addition, consider external issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to one report, social isolation, work-related stress, and a deep sense of fear brought about by the pandemic produced a 25% uptick in anxiety and depression worldwide.

To care for yourself this way, take the time to acknowledge how you feel. Understand that your reactions are natural and real.

If something exacerbates negative emotions, such as the evening news or your social media feed, turn them off. Your emotional state is precious, valuable, and worth preserving.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is caring for your body and giving it the movement and nutrients it needs.

Find a form of exercise you genuinely enjoy: walking, stretching, running, or playing sports.

It is good to stay active, but you should know your limits. Listen to your body and take breaks if you feel sore or over-exerted. Rest is integral to physical self-care.

Make an effort to eat healthy, delicious food: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or seeds, and lean proteins give you energy and stamina to keep up with life’s daily demands.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care is the practice of connecting with your higher self, unattached to the physical world’s fears, egos, and demands, where your most profound dreams and desires live. Spiritual self-care is often overlooked, but it’s as essential as caring for your body and emotions.

Rediscover your higher self by practicing meditation, walking in nature, and finding meaningful connections within your community. You can also practice yoga to strengthen both your body and your spirit.

As you learn to listen to this innermost voice, you’ll feel a renewed sense of peace and belonging.

Professional Self-Care

Professional self-care means extending your self-care practices into the workplace, setting clear boundaries, establishing a work/life balance, and only taking on as many responsibilities as you can healthily manage.

You should feel supported and cared for by your supervisors and colleagues, not driven by fear or a constant need to perform and produce. If your current workplace does not support these practices, you’re likely in a toxic work environment.

To care for yourself at work, keep a clean workspace and take regular breaks. Keep track of your workload and speak up if it’s inching beyond your capacity. If you can minimize stressors and achieve balance, work can enhance your self-care, not detract from it.

Psychological Self-Care

Psychological self-care means nourishing your mind, allowing yourself to reflect and meditate.

You can let ideas enter your mind and give them space to develop. Alternatively, you might choose to speak with a life coach.

Psychological self-care also includes personal and professional development. Reading a book or learning a new skill will stretch your mind and help it flourish.

Self-Care vs. Selfishness

It’s human nature to feel guilty if we devote time to ourselves, especially when we’re constantly aware of the needs of those around us.

On the surface, self-care could look like selfishness. However, the difference here is intention.

Self-care makes you strong, healthy, and more capable of supporting those around you, extending outward what you’ve learned.

Selfishness is egocentric. Achieving your self-centered aims might provide short-term satisfaction, but it is ultimately petty and sterile.

Discover Your Self-Care

What does self-care look like for you?

Which form would you strengthen if given the opportunity?

You should not scramble around helping others adjust their oxygen masks without wearing yours. You need to care for yourself as you look for ways to care for others.

If you’re interested in discovering more about the art of self-care and how to put it into daily practice, contact me to get started.