Take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone and everything else you have to take care of. It’s a simple concept of course. It’s just like the safety directions when you fly on a plane: When cabin pressure drops, the oxygen masks drop from overhead. Put the mask on yourself first and then you can assist others.
You’re not even supposed to assist your own child with his or her mask until you’ve already put your own mask on. It makes perfect sense. You’ve got to have what you need before you can help anyone else.
Taking care of yourself – body, mind, spirit – is not always easy. Women, especially, tend to put children, grandchildren, parents, even pets, before their own needs. Lots of things can get in the way, so make your self-care a priority and do what you can to make sure you stay feeling healthy and strong.
Here are 10 simple strategies to help you take care of your mind and spirit.
- Take at least 3 minutes of quiet time every morning. Find a quiet spot (closet, bathroom, shower) and turn off the television, radio, phone, computer, etc. Set a timer for at least 3 minutes and then be still, close your eyes (if you’re sitting) and focus on your breath. To help quiet your mind, say to yourself, “Breathe in. Breathe out,” and then deeply inhale and exhale. Feel the air fill your lungs and your chest, then exhale. Quieting your mind helps ease negative effects of stress.
- Prioritize. When you’re prioritizing your list of things to do, remember to put yourself on the list and then stick with it.
- Say “want” instead of “need”. I read an article where the author (I can’t remember where or who!) said that changing 2 words shifts thinking. This was one of the words. Surprisingly, I said “I need to do …” a lot and changing it to “I want to do …” made me look at my to do list with a different perspective.
- Say “and” instead of “but”. If you’re like me and you say “but” a lot, this one might be tricky. Give it a try and see if it changes anything for you.
- Count your blessings. In the midst of deadlines and commitments, gratitude can shift your perspective. There’s a saying that goes, “A grateful heart is open for blessings.” Give it a try.
- Have a quiet commute. Turn off the radio, phone, podcasts, etc. Focus on your breathing for at least a few minutes and then have some quiet time with your own thoughts. You can pray, sing, laugh, or just be silent.
- Use your resources. Friends are often willing and ready to lend a hand if you let them. Hire help. Get referrals from people you trust. Consider getting help from your children or grandchildren. Be patient. Think of the time you spend instructing them as an investment. They learn and you get a helper!
- Push back. When you can, negotiate deadlines, more help, or flexibility to make things more manageable for you.
- Filter the input to your mind. Bad news, drama, negativity, and conflict sell. Be mindful of the mass media you choose and remember that the body goes as the mind goes. Click here to read a previous blog post about the mind-body connection.
- Surround yourself with positive, loving people. As much as possible, minimize exposure to manipulation and gossip and choose friends who lift people up.
Try at least one of these strategies to help you take better care of yourself. Think of it as putting on your oxygen mask for the day so you’re better able to love and care for those you love.