Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First...

As Self-Care Week begins on 13 November, here's my experience of what happens when I don't look after myself, especially when times are tough...

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I have a confession...

…I’m a Fresh Air Fridays facilitator.  And a trained coach.

I know the importance of looking after my physical and mental health and support others in making time to do this for themselves.  Yet I’ve just spent a week feeling proper poorly with a cold.  Without doubt, this is the consequence of a particularly stressful and difficult few weeks for me and some of the most important people in my life. Oh, and a nasty bug that seems to be flying around at the moment.

Why am I sharing this?

Because it shows that even if you *know* how to look after yourself, in times of stress it’s easy to forget. For me, the needs of others took over in these last weeks and I went into crisis mode, putting aside any thought of caring for myself.

Why am I sharing this now?

Because, with International Stress Awareness Day last week and Self-Care Week coming up, beginning on 13 November, it’s the perfect time to remind myself (and maybe you too, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation) of exactly why it’s so important to look after yourself, especially in times of crisis.

Essentially, it’s as the safety demo on every flight you ever take describes it: ‘put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping others with theirs’. The fact is that if you don’t look after yourself, even when partners, children, work colleagues, family and friends need your care and attention, you’ll eventually run out of energy and emotion.  Which means you’re no longer able to do the things you need to do.  That’s it really.

So, how do I look after myself?

For me, there are a few tried and tested things guaranteed to work for me. Among these are:

  • a little daily Headspace*
  • regular time outside walking
  • swimming (with goggles on so I have to swim and breathe properly, rather than having a nice chat with the person next to me)
  • proper down time with my family – either out and about or hanging out playing games and watching films
  • laughing – ideally with my hubby or my best friend
  • singing (loudly!) in the car

Of course, different things work for different people and all I would urge is that, if you don’t know already, you take a little time out to think about what you need. There’s no right or wrong answer here – what works, works.

For me, for now, I’ll be taking the rest of the day off, with my feet up, making sure I recover properly and putting time aside in the coming weeks to do the things I need to take care of myself so I can take care of the people around me.

*Headspace is a simple meditation app

Saranne Postans

Fresh Air Fridays

We take people outside and teach simple tools and techniques to support their wellbeing - helping them to live their best life.