I had grand plans for myself this past weekend but none of them materialized. I had good intentions to brew a big pot of java and, with my renewed energy of a fresh day, spend Saturday morning working on my blog and organizing some things in our home office before moving on to my domestic duties and ending the weekend with some leisurely time on the couch reading.Instead, I spent Saturday morning cleaning up the chaos of our lives; our weekly jaunt to Home Depot; a flag football game, a school fund-raiser; which dissolved into Sunday and 10+ mile run; our weekly soccer game; errands such as grocery shopping; Only to get home in time to put the groceries away, clean up the house again because it had imploded with Shane’s toys, and figure out dinner.
By 5 p.m., I found myself in the throes of a full-blown panic attack.
Now, I know that I am feeling sorry for myself and I don’t even have it half as bad as some of my gal pals. Most of my friends work full-time jobs in addition to having multiple children. I know, I know…I really have no right to complain with just one measly child. However, I can honestly say that the constant feeling that my time never seems to be my own is starting to wear thin on me.I am just trying to figure out how I can fit it all in and feel good about everything, which is where this daily reflection about putting myself first puts it all in perspective.
Putting Yourself First
Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself.We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, do it for others. Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it’s easy to keep putting self-care off—easy, that is, until we get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That’s when we realize we haven’t been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it’s just plain practical.
Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can even encourage yourself by saying “I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others” or some other mantra that will encourage you. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be composed of massively time-consuming acts. In fact, the best prescription for taking care of yourself is probably small, daily rituals; for example, taking one half-hour for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, journal, or just be. You might also transform the occasional daily shower or bath into a half-hour self-pampering session.
Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in spades for you and the ones you love. The oxygen you need is all around you; sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe.
The reality is that I can’t shirk my responsibilities to my family nor do I want to; but, I certainly want to make the time to be kind to myself. So I am going to make some small gestures for myself and also grab the oxygen mask the next time I feel a panic attack coming on.
It certainly can’t hurt to breathe.