Ever heard one of these sayings?
- “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
- “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
- “Take care of yourself first, or you will have nothing to give to others.”
- “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” (my personal favorite)
Have you rolled your eyes yet?
On airplanes, during an emergency the crew instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, and then help a child or someone else do so. That makes sense because you cannot be of help to anyone unless you can breathe.
It doesn’t have to be that dramatic an event to prioritize YOU. So why is the concept of self-care so easily thrown out the window the minute someone pulls at your attention or an email hits the inbox?
When you put yourself last, everyone suffers (not just you).
Do you “set yourself on fire to keep others warm”? I sometimes do, and the last couple of weeks was one of those times.
As a result, I let the apartment get unruly, fell behind on my “Hormone Health” certification class, was bound to my email night and day, cancelled social arrangements, and ultimately got a cold. The domino effect on my emotional and physical health is clear when I don’t practice self-care. Do you notice what happens for you? If not, it’s time to take a self-care audit:
- What are your self-care practices?
- Do you have list? (if not, make one right now)
- Are you committed to and regularly fulfill them?
- Is it the first thing you let slide?
It can be jolting to take an honest look at your results. The good news is that once you do, you can get back on track with some quick tweaks. Notice I say quick, instead of easy. Old habits are hard to break and if you’ve been “on fire” for a long time, it will take you a bit of adjusting to put the flames out. Respect that.
Start with one spritz of water at a time, and don’t get thrown off if you fall off once in a while. Try the strategies that fit your lifestyle best:
- Start your day with an activity that gets you focused. Whether it be a workout, meditation, writing, reading, listening to a podcast or spending quality time with a loved one, practice self-care first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day.
- Set regular “sacred times.” In between meetings, during your commute, in the middle of the day or whenever best fits within your schedule, time block on your calendar and do not allow for project creep.
- Remember in school we had recess and/or a free period to play, rest or do a hobby? Why did we ever stop? Make time for play and give yourself permission to do things you enjoy even if for just 15 minutes.
- Know your limitations. If you know that your email pinging every few minutes while you go for a walk will distract you, then shut the darn thing off for that time period.
- Enlist an accountability buddy. Success is more likely when you share your goals with others and set up regular check-ins to gauge progress.
- Measure results. Want to work out 3 times a week? Eat an extra vegetable a day? Get 30 minutes more sleep per night? Great! Keep count in order to evaluate how you’re doing, and what’s working.
Regardless of the practices you employ, embrace and enjoy them! According to an article in Psychology Today, “There is a difference between self-absorbed, narcissistic behavior and sound internal self-care. Self-care is about taking good care of our own feelings so we don’t project them onto others, act badly, or cause problems in relationships. Being in touch with our own feelings and embracing them is the healthiest thing we can do.”
That does not mean running up bills with shopping therapy! You want to engage in activities that support your body’s optimal function and improve your well-being.
What self-care practices do you employ to make yourself #1? Please share.
As for me, I took a beautiful walk on the beach this morning and did my 4-7-8 breathing practice. I’m off to a good start! How about you?
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™