When on an airplane, we’re told to put on our own oxygen mask and then put the one for our child. So why don’t we apply the same principle through the rest of our life? Women are particularly at risk for taking care of everyone else and not themselves. At the beginning of the year, after weeks of Christmas eating and drinking too much and exercising less (or not at all!), people invariably think about their health. Many people have a goal to think more about their health through the new year. We know all the right things to do to take care of ourselves, so why don’t we do it?
Neglecting ourselves might be a lifelong habit or one we developed as we got older, due to increased responsibilities. Regardless of the reasons, it is a habit that we must break because if we don’t, our bodies won’t forgive us as we get older. First, as we age, we may find our sleep is disrupted, maybe waking once or twice in a night. We may get numbness in our hands and feet. We may need to stretch as soon as we wake up to ‘get going’. Coffee and alcohol might affect us where they didn’t before, or we just don’t have the energy we once had. We may experience forgetfulness, or feelings of failure or just not ‘doing enough’.
Despite these annoying but ultimately ignorable issues, some people don’t take care of themselves. Why is that? There are many reasons like lack of time or money; even where this isn’t an issue, some don’t take advantage of life-saving habits. If this is you, you need to ask yourself some questions?
Do you think its selfish to take care of yourself? Is it scary to think about your own needs? Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel guilty taking time out of your day just for you? Is there some payback for me not taking time for me?
It’s a choice really. We need to choose to put ourselves first. If you’re going on a driving holiday, the first thing you do is fill up the gas tank. Mother Teresa said, “to keep the lamp burning, we need to keep putting oil in it”. It’s the same with our bodies. We need to decide to give as much to ourselves as we do to our friends, family, co-workers/boss, kids, the gas station attendant, the paperboy, the dog, the cat, the fish… Why not make a decision, a choice, that once a day, even once a week or once a month to get you started, you take time for yourself. Stop and call the person you’ve been thinking about, go for a hike on one of our gorgeous mountains, take a bath, read a book, meditate or get a massage. This says, “I value myself”.
Once you commit to a regular plan, schedule it in – you’ll feel good, you’ll feel luxurious, maybe even sinful. If you allow yourself, you’ll do it more often.