Posted Liz Wian on 12/21/2017 |General
When I was younger, flying cross-country was an ordinary experience; my dad lived in California and I lived with my mom in North Carolina. I remember at a very young age, sitting on the plane with my CD Walkman and favorite stuffed animal in tow, attentively listening to every word the flight attendant said prior to takeoff. I made note of the emergency exists he pointed out and lifted my seat to see if it truly could become a floatation device. Then, I heard him instruct us to do something that seemed completely incorrect: the adult passengers were told to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting children or other people with theirs.
My jaw dropped.
My entire life, to that point, I had been put first. My needs were met and exceeded before those of the adults around me. My dinner was served to me before my mom sat down to her meal. I had my nightly shower and was tucked in before she began her routine. I was dropped off to school before she went on to work. Why, now, of all times during an emergency, was I going to come second? The instruction stayed with me long after the flight landed and the lesson from it has significantly shaped my adult life. You can’t be good to others, if you’re not good to yourself first.
The holidays are festive and merry, with parties and family gatherings, mailboxes filled with goodies and beautiful cards, but they are also stressful. What off the wall thing will my dad say and how will my sister-in-law like her gift? Will my husband and I find time to clean and declutter our house to accommodate all our out-of-town guests before my 1.5-year-old destroys it? And, how much dog hair is too much dog hair for visitors?
The to-do lists can be never-ending and the family obligations can feel insurmountable, but none of it matters if you aren’t taking time to care for yourself first. Whether it’s an afternoon run or a weekend coffee date with friends, taking steps to ensure you are a priority is essential. It’s easy to put others’ theoretical oxygen masks on before your own and it takes work to make intentional steps towards self-care. The guilt of missing ordinary time with family for “me time” can be hard to process and I often find myself choosing the path that, at the time, seems better and easier. But, without these moments and experiences that recharge and reenergize you, the cup you are pouring out of becomes less and less.
This holiday season and new year are the perfect time to practice one of my favorite Girls on the Run Core Values, “nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health”, and take the sometimes hard steps at making time for yourself. Consider it ensuring your oxygen mask is firmly in place.