Anyone who has flown in a plane will be familiar with the safety instructions to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. It makes sense, we understand it and in the unlikely event that we should need to, I’m sure that most of us would follow through as instructed.
How many of us look at our own self care in the same way though? How many of us continue to give and deplete ourselves in our endless struggle for approval and the inability to say no until we have nothing left for ourselves, much less anyone else. Self care has been high on my list of priorities of late, as while I teach it and preach it for a living, to this date I’ve not taken my own advice. I’ve written about it before, promised myself that changes are ahead, but sadly I have not been walking my talk. I have seen the effects of this on others many times in the past and in the last couple of years when things became busy and I forgot how to say no, I saw the effects on myself in body, mind and spirit.
This year I made a solemn promise to myself that things would be different. I chose the word “nourish” as my word for 2016 as that is what I really want to focus on. I plan to be nourished, feel nourished, live nourished and be so ridiculously full of juicy goodness that I am literally overflowing. I’ve done pretty well to date, and I’ve made some rather massive lifestyle changes that support my desire for nourishment and I’m loving reaping the benefits.
When it comes to our own self care, how many of us actually know what our needs are and how to meet them? When I deliver Mental Health First Aid courses, which I do a lot, I give homework to my participants on day one. Their homework is to do something intentional in terms of self care. The next day when I ask for feedback on how it went, on average about fifty percent of the group tell me that they engaged in some form of self care. I get a huge thrill when people do things that they normally wouldn’t for themselves, and people tell stories of taking a bath, not cooking for the night, going for a walk, calling a friend, curling up with a book, having an early night and much more. I also feel that I wish I could help the others that don’t take the time to do something for themselves, even if it is for just one night.
I think part of the problem is that many of us don’t know how to take care of ourselves and self care is a much used word, but not commonly implemented strategy.
We can only take care of our own needs and other people can make suggestions, but really we all only know what floats our own boat. For me, it’s time out with friends and family, regular travel, reading, writing and tactile modalities such as massage and reflexology. I am in Bali right now, which I manage to do at least three times a year and my self care when I am here is pretty impressive. The main thing is to remember to keep it as a focus when I get home.
I found these self care wheels when I was preparing a session recently and I think they are a good tool to begin to consider what you need to do in order to facilitate your own self care. Sometimes some suggestions from others can help to get our own juices flowing. I have attached a blank one so that you can complete your own as well.
I like the analogy of a wheel, as it is a great symbol for the fact that all areas of our life need to be in balance. A wheel only works if it is perfectly round, and so it is with our life.
I also like this little info graphic of 50 ways to take a break. Taking a break is after all what we need for self care.
So while you are reading this, can you take a minute to grab a notebook and pen or whatever it is you write with and jot down a few things you can do in order to take care of YOUR needs.
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so please fill yours first before filling others.