When we travel on an airplane (remember those?!), the flight attendant always asks us to secure our oxygen mask first.before assisting others. I’ve been thinking about these instructions a lot lately.
As a mother, my instinct is always to make sure my children are safe. In life, I’m constantly making sure their needs are met and they’re safe and secure but rarely give a second thought to my own needs. But this is not sustainable. Eventually, we’ll all run out of air.
We need to make sure our oxygen masks are secure in order to continue to giving and care for those around us.
So why is it so hard for us to put ourselves first? Society teaches us that self-care, self indulgence and “me time” are selfish. A good parent puts their children first. No, matter what.
But contrary to what our culture tells us, self care is anything but selfish.
So What is Self-Care?
In an interview with Everyday Health, Dr. Marni Aamsellem, PhD, a licensed psychologist based in Trumbull, Connecticut said “Self-care is anything that you do for yourself that feels nourishing. That can be something that’s relaxing or calming, or it can be something that is intellectual or spiritual or physical or practical or something you need to get done.”
To practice self-care, we have to routinely check in with ourselves. How are you doing? What is your body telling you it needs? Self-care isn’t necessarily just yoga and meditation (although it could be). We are all unique, and therefore, “What is self-care for one person will likely differ from someone else, and what’s self-care for you one day might not feel like self-care another day,” Dr. Amsellem said.
Allows you to be present as a caregiver
When we forget to care for our own basic needs, we put ourselves in danger for deep levels of unhappiness, feelings of resentment, low self-esteem, and even depression. When we’re feeling burned out, it makes it difficult to care for others. But when we take time to complete an activity that renews our energy, it may help us feel happier and more present and in return be a more present and nurturing parent or caregiver.
Improves Physical Health
What does eating healthy, getting lots of rest, exercising, mindfulness and taking a hot epsom salt bath all have in common? They all stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which allows your body to decompress. All of this gives the body the opportunity to build its defenses against those nasty cold bugs that like to attack when we’re at our weakest and can, in turn, help boost your immune system.
Nothing drains our energy like stress. It’s a main contributor to fatigue, negative thoughts, depression and more. Ongoing and chronic stress makes our bodies more susceptible to illness and disease. There are a number of medical conditions that are proven to be caused or exacerbated by stress, such as heart disease and hypertension. Mindful activities, slowing down and tuning into your body trigger a relaxation response in your body. It releases the stress and anxiety that are causing pain and health problems in your body.