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Friday, March 18, 2016

New Beginnings: #3 Are You Wearing Your Oxygen Mask?

Awhile back I saw a couple of clips of flight attendants who delivered the airplane safety instructions like stand up comediennes. Unfortunately, I've never had the privilege of flying with one of them. I've only been treated to the traditional safety film and accompanying flight attendant demo. Can you keep a secret? I thought they were a little boring and even useless. I mean, if your plane is hurtling toward the earth from 25,000 feet how much difference are any of these safety features really going to make?

Then one day I had a bit of an attitude adjustment. Still no comedian flight attendant, but I was traveling with a six year old family friend. Although her father was also traveling with the group, I knew he was a bit like the absent-minded professor and so I was prepared to give her a little extra attention. 
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As her little six year old self sat next to me on the plane and the safety film began, I paid careful attention. They asked who should get the oxygen mask first you or a child with you. Heroically, I replied firmly in my head, "the little girl!" Then they proceeded to show me why that was the absolute wrong answer. And it made sense, not only on the plane, but in life.

If I tried to put on the child's mask first, and encountered trouble, I would soon run out of oxygen, become unconscious, and be unable to help her. If I put on my own mask first, I would have a fresh supply of air that would allow me to remain conscious and clear thinking, able to help her overcome any challenges we might encounter putting on her mask. 

This is also true in day to day life. When we become busy, stressed, overwhelmed, our energy can be rapidly depleted leaving us without the resources to cope with life's difficulties and to love well those around us. Self-care is an important aspect of good health -- emotional, physical, and spiritual health. In times of high stress, times of change, or times of additional responsibility, adequate self-care can become more difficult.

Identify What You Need
We all need adequate sleep, healthy food, plenty of water, and exercise for physical self-care. Those are critical parts of caring for ourselves, and often the first to be sacrificed. Yet, we are more than physical beings and caring for ourselves emotionally and spiritually is also important.

What refills your emotional tank? What allows you to de-stress and regain the ability to meet high emotional demands with emotional fortitude? For me, as an introvert, time alone, time to think, time to process what is happening all refill my emotional tank. Time alone carefully balanced with time with good friends and loved ones keeps my emotional tank at optimum levels. What refreshes you? What fills you with positive emotional energy?

What about spiritually? For me, journaling, prayer, Bible study, and fellowship help me to maintain spiritual well being. What renews your spirit and your connection with God?

Make Space in Your Life for Self-Care
1. Identify what you need.

2. Brainstorm ways that you can incorporate those things that refresh you into your schedule.

3. Take steps, even small ones, to begin to create spaces and times that minister to your body, soul, and heart.

4. Put on your oxygen mask so that you have the strength to do all God has called you to do.

What have you done to make self-care a part of your life?
What is the hardest part of finding time to care for yourself?

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