Most everyone is familiar with the safety drill on airplanes. In case of emergency, parents are told to put the oxygen mask on themselves before their children. The idea is for parents to care for themselves first, so they are physically able to care for their children. This motto can be applied to all of us. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. In fact, the better we care for ourselves, the more we’re able to help others.
Our careers, our families and friendships often require us to go the extra mile. Of course, at times it’s necessary, but it’s equally important to replenish. And, we also have to recognize when we overdo it and why. Are we seeking validation, maintaining unrealistic goals, being manipulated, feeling guilty or are we simply too ashamed to ask for help? First, we must acknowledge that we’re overwhelmed, then we have to explore why, and finally, we have to commit to scheduling “me days”. If we don’t, we might not have any free days left to help anyone, including ourselves.
We all get depleted, not just caregivers, teachers, healers, parents, doctors and social workers. Working too many hours on too little sleep with a poor diet combined with stress, can cause our bodies to breakdown. Ultimately, if we don’t practice self-care, we won’t be as efficient, productive or effective. And, we certainly won’t be enjoying our life as much as we could.
Signs of depletion:
Bouts of sadness, confusion, depression or anxiety
Inability to make decisions
Weight gain or weight loss
More reactive and defensive
Certainly, it’s hard to recognize when we need to replenish, but, it’s also hard to know how. Scheduling our downtime has to be on a regular basis and we can’t wait until we collapse from exhaustion. That’s too late and can lead to serious illness.
Here are 11 ways to practice self-care on a regular basis:
Turn off electronics
Spend time in Nature
Get a manicure or a massage
Meditate daily and practice mindfulness
Dance, create art, music
Take a hot bath
Take week-end getaways
In order to live a healthy and happy life, we must have balance. When we practice self-care, we will have more energy, feel less stressed and be less reactive to situations. When we enjoy life more, others around us will enjoy our company even more too.
“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” – Audrey Lorde