You know how in airplanes, there’s the safety warning before take-off? What are they telling you? In the event of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first –THEN you can help others.
Yet so many people, when life gets stressful or tragedy strikes, or they are drowning in life they think that it’s their duty to help everyone else but themselves.
This is an important metaphor for those of you who are out of balance, running around taking care of everything and everyone else except themselves.
It’s time to let go of the guilt and the excuses and put on your oxygen mask. To avoid burnout, managing our self-care is a key responsibility to maintain our happiness, our physical health, and our mental health. It requires consciously planning to include time in our day to attend to our own needs and to make that time a priority. If we don’t, we eventually won’t be able to care for others. Try scheduling your time like a meeting that you cannot cancel or reschedule. Make it a must! Otherwise, you will wind up getting resentful with those around you because you are filling yourself back up.
Airplanes have sensors to protect against oxygen deprivation. Fortunately, so do we: our loved ones. If they are seeing signs of “oxygen deprivation” in our life, signs that we have not taken the time to notice ourselves – it’s time for a change. Balance, after all, is like oxygen. We need it to survive.
Here are some ways to ease your way back into balance.
- Define what a balanced life means to you: The right balance for you today, may not be the right balance for you tomorrow or next week or next month because your priorities change based on life stages. The one constant in knowing you have a “balanced life” is the overall feeling of accomplishment and happiness.
- Unplug every now and then: Everything beings to work again after it’s unplugged for awhile, even you.
- Learn to say no: Saying no doesn’t make you mean or inflexible. You will never be able to achieve balance and manage it all by saying Yes to everything, it’s just not possible. Say NO to everything that is either someone else can easily do or doesn’t add something valuable to your life.
- Write things down: The only way to improve your life is to understand what you’re doing, what’s working, and that isn’t. Trying to keep it all in our heads doesn’t work.
- Accept you are human and asking for help doesn’t make you less than: Sometimes other people can do it faster, better and cheaper than it would cost you to do it yourself. If you really look at why you are trying to do it all ( and likely not gracefully ) it comes down to control. Let it go!
Don’t just talk about change. If you are feeling stagnant, overwhelmed and just not overly fulfilled – make a plan for a shift – for life. Creating boundaries, picking top 3 priorities and focusing on them til they are done, understand what’s working and what isn’t — will help you more forward with confidence.