“When the oxygen masks fall from the overhead compartment, place yours over your nose and mouth [demonstrates], then decide which of your family members you wish to assist with theirs, if any.” So began the flight atttendant on the last budget flight I took. Not everyone got the joke, but as someone who regularly talks about oxygen masks and does the demo in session with clients, I found this most amusing.
So why would I be acting like a flight attendant when I’ve been hired as a coach or therapist? Because putting on your oxygen mask is a great visual reminder for self-care and its importance. I try not to bang on about self-care, but I will admit to probably talking about it too much from time to time. The bottom line is this – if you don’t take care of yourself first, then how can you be in fit state to care for anyone else? [And note I don’t say “take care of” rather “care for” – but that’s material for another blog post].
I admit, early on in my career as a therapist, the value of self-care was a bit of a mystery. I seemed to be offered endless seminars and workshops on self-care and routinely ignored them, thinking they were for other therapists who were jaded and needed a bit of a boost. Wrong. After one of those “breakdown to breakthrough” experiences with a violent client in a hospital setting, I got it that I needed deep resources of resilience to keep doing this demanding work.
And we are ALL doing demanding work, whether it be in a business setting or running a home. We all need to take care of ourselves. Full-stop [period for my American audience]. For the sake of carpe diem let alone caring for others important to us.
So what does self-care look like? Here are some suggestions:
- Some time every day, however brief, to do something that feeds you (could be walking in nature, listening to music, reading, working out, yoga, meditation, creative things);
- Having some space, time, expansiveness for reflection (to remember what’s really important in life, to experience gratitude, to nurture self and other);
- Connecting with something greater than ourselves – for some this is a spiritual endeavour, for others religious, perhaps a mixture of both;
- Taking time to tend to basic routines of health and well-being (bit of a no-brainer but personal hygiene, grooming, care of clothes and environment are key);
- Indulging in massage, reiki, spa-type treamtents help us to feel rejuvenated and pampered;
- Having fun! What gives you pleasure and makes you laugh?
If you skimmed over any part of this list and thought “no way, not for me” I invite you to just pause and consider this, why not? What gets in the way of taking care of yourself? In the words of a current ad campaign you deserve it!