Well, we can’t function very well if we aren’t very well. If it is important to us to be able to take care of others, then we must pay attention to our own well-being.
My favorite analogy for this is clichéd, but accurate. When you get on an airplane and the flight attendant gives that safety spiel, when they get to the part about the oxygen masks, the first thing they tell you is: “If you’re traveling with children or others who need assistance, put your oxygen mask on first.”
Think about it. Let’s say you don’t do that and you fall unconscious due to lack of oxygen, then no one gets the help they need. Lose/lose situation there. It’s the same deal in everyday life. When we don’t take care of ourselves, no one wins.
And yet there is a pervasive cultural pressure to keep pushing ourselves, to ignore the physical needs of our bodies and the emotional needs of our souls, which invariably leads to chronic stress, burnout, depression. Data show that burned-out healthcare providers provide crappy service, depressed parents can’t effectively parent, and the list goes on.
When I talk with my patients about self-care, I often hear things like “But I don’t have time!” or “I’ll feel like I’m being selfish!”
As one of two working parents with two small children, I can empathize greatly with these patients. So, the advice I give is the same advice that I follow.
I know that it can be difficult to fit in self-care when time is at a premium and demands on you are high, but here are four easy things you can consider.