Put on Your Own Air Mask First

“When you can lovingly be present to yourself, your presence to others takes on a deeper quality also.” ~ MacRina Wiederkehr

Every time I get on an airplane, I listen to the flight attendant’s instructions. Put on your seat belt, make sure your tray and seat back are in the upright position. If there is an emergency landing in the water, the seat cushion doubles as a flotation device. And the all-important rule: if the air masks drop down from the ceiling, pull the line tight then put on your own air mask first before assisting others…

Though it is very, very hard to say “good-bye” to my two sweet daughters when my husband and I leave town together, I believe that time spent alone with my husband and the deepening and maintenance of our relationship is actually something that we do both for ourselves and for the benefit of our children. So even though I shed some tears when I kiss my little ones bye-bye, I know we’ll be back, small trinket gifts in hand for them, and we will give them an even greater gift—the gift of a strong relationship between their parents.

This also goes for taking care of yourself and your relationships if yoare a single parent or don’t have children. The people around you who care about you and whom you care about will benefit from the time you take to maintain yourself and your key relationships, be that caring for yourself physically through exercise and healthy eating, spiritually through meditation and quiet time, or emotionally through journaling or fun time with friends or by yourself. All parts of your life are interconnected, and giving positive attention and care to one area always benefits the other areas as well.

Life is synergistic. The better the functioning and fulfillment you experience in one area of life, the better you will feel about the other areas of life and the better you will function in those areas. I wanted to share this with you because it reminded me of this important lesson:

“Unplug” from work every once in a while. Nurture yourself with your own self-care—exercise, time in the sauna, quiet time in the sun with some good books, whatever it is that gives you that precious “me” time. And don’t feel guilty for doing it either. Make a rule around it if you have to by telling the significant people in your life that on Saturday from two until three o’clock, you aren’t to be bothered unless it’s a crisis. They’ll soon figure out that losing their favorite pair of shoes is not an emergency that requires your immediate attention!

I know that my time of self-care will improve my peace of mind, my ability to be fully present with my spouse and children, and my efficiency and creativity in my work, along with many other benefits. I am reminded of the vital importance of taking this time to rejuvenate and reinvigorate myself. Without “me time” we only operate at 75-90% of our capacity. We give up too much energy in anxiety, overwhelm, and exhaustion. And that can lead to irritability, instability, resentment, and anger. Why put anyone through that when a few minutes of downtime will put gas back in our tank?

So when that air mask drops down, what are you going to do? Take care of yourself first. It might go against your nature—and some people may think you’re selfish. But remember, you cannot care for others if you aren’t functioning at 100%.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/guttersnipe76/3426770800/TODAY: Think about these questions: What are you doing to nurture yourself? How have you cared for your body, mind, spirit, and relationships lately? Can you think how caring for one facet of your life can benefit the other areas? This process of evaluation will bring you a clearer picture of how lacking you are in taking care of yourself. If you don’t put yourself at number one, who else will?



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