Help Yourself First

Take care of yourself so you can take care of others

Before I got married, my mom gave me some advice that has stuck with me for more than 20 years. Simply this – “Take care of yourself first.”

She reminded me of what happens every time you get on an airplane. The flight attendant does safety announcements before takeoff. You may have heard it … “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of pressure, oxygen masks will automatically drop. Place the mask on yourself first, and then help a child or the person next to you.”

Although it might sound a little selfish, these words ring true when it comes to our lives. It’s alarming how many parents, healthcare professionals, teachers, ministers, leaders, social workers, counselors – really anyone who cares for the needs of others – just crash and burnout.

Many of us who help others don’t know when to let ourselves breathe first. We want to see other people breathe so badly that we neglect to our own air, falsely assuming that we’ll take a breath when it’s needed. The result is incredible stress, compassion fatigue, and emotional exhaustion. And while we offer our best to the people we serve, we only have the leftovers, and sometimes we have nothing left, for ourselves and those we love the most.

So even though you might struggle with the idea of putting yourself first, the healthiest thing you can do is to stop and consider how you can take care of yourself. How does a person who wants to badly to help others get the help to breathe first?

Here’s just a few easy things you can start doing today:

  1. Be fully in and embrace the present moment
  2. Do something you enjoy doing – even if it’s just for 10 minutes
  3. Spend time with positive people
  4. Be grateful—start the day remembering at least three things you are thankful for
  5. Spend time alone and just be still for a few minutes

Of course, you can always come visit Soul Care to enjoy a warm cup of tea in a Quiet Pod where you can read, pray, journal, be still, color, or even nap.

Let us know your thoughts on this —

  • Does it seem self-centered to talk about taking care of yourself first?
  • How can you begin taking care of yourself and your soul first?
  • How will taking care of yourself and your soul first affect others?
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