Written By: Megan E. Young, CRC, LPC-Intern
We often see “#selfcare” on social media platforms or use it as a buzz word when talking with friends, but what does it mean and how can it help us to live happier, healthier lives?
At times, practicing self-care can be perceived as self-pampering or engaging in selfish, unproductive behaviors. However, self-care is fundamentally taking an active role in prioritizing our own well-being, particularly in times of increased stress.
Why is this important? As a parent, caregiver, friend, employer or employee, shouldn’t we want to ensure that everything and everyone around us is taken care of before tending to ourselves? Isn’t it unproductive to reflect on our own needs and prioritize our own well-being? The answer–no, it’s not.
If you have ever traveled by airplane, you have heard the standard safety instructions prior to take off. As the flight attendants run passengers through the airline procedures regarding belt buckles, life vests, and the nearest exists, they always communicate the following statement: “In case of a change in cabin pressure, place the oxygen mask on yourself prior to helping children or others around you in need of assistance.” Again, this seems counterintuitive. Why would I help myself before ensuring the safety of those around me?
I want to encourage you to reflect on one key aspect of this situation. If you can’t breathe, you are of no help to others around you. You can’t give to others what you, yourself don’t have.
Let’s work to reframe self-care through this lens. By putting on your own oxygen mask, you are ensuring that you are providing yourself with all that is necessary to assist those around you (family, friends, or coworkers). If you consistently operate from a place of distress, anxiety, or pressure, you will never be able to respond to life situations (school, work, children, spouses, etc.) in a calm, composed, and collected manner.
Self-care allows for the opportunity to reflect on our own well-being so that we can show up for those who need us. This self-evaluation can be jarring at first, especially with the demands of work, school, or our own personal lives; however, the smallest step in practicing self-care can have the largest impact.
When beginning to think about your own well-being, allow yourself time to reflect on how to practice self-care.
· Ask yourself to complete the phrase “I need…”
· How are you currently tending to your physical, mental, and spiritual health?
· What does your self-care plan include?
· When can you take time out of your day to engage in self-care?
· Make a list of people you can turn to for support.
The way in which you prioritize yourself is personal to you. Whatever it may be, just remember you are putting on your mask first so you can be fully available to assist those nearby.
So, what will you be adding to your self-care plan this week?