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“Put your own oxygen mask on first”.

How many times have you heard that phrase? Every single time (hopefully) you get on an airplane. What is the rationale for a flight attendant telling his or her passengers that? Well, let’s be honest. If you don’t put your own oxygen mask on, you will be unable and unavailable to put someone else’s oxygen mask on for them. You will be unconscious or maybe dead even. Wow, thanks for that pick-me-up! What a nice vision to start the new year. Hopeful Hippie, unconscious or dead?

Really? Yes. Really.

So, the bottom line is that you need to take care of yourself before you can even try to help someone else. Whether you have kids or you don’t. Whether you have a significant other or you don’t. Whether you have elderly parents or you don’t. There is someone else that relies on you (and probably several).

This week, here in my part of “sunny” California – it was gloomy. Gray clouds – cold. The sun did not peak its head out most of the week. I know, I know. My version of California cold is definitely not the same as Alaska cold. But I also did get a dose of warmth, relaxation and restoration even in spite of the gloom! I went to a yin yoga class last weekend. The focus was on self-care.

I also was in a doctor’s office a few months ago and grabbed a magazine that had an article entitled, “4 Step Self-Compassion Break”. In the article, the authors talked about taking “Compassion Breaks”. What are those? Compassion Breaks are “when we allow ourselves to pause, tune in and feed our emotions” (Roubicek and Thacker). Show love for yourself like you do towards your friends and family!

Here are the steps, courtesy of Roubicek and Thacker!

  1. Bring mindful acceptance to what you are doing and what is happening in your life. Take a moment and accept your hip aggravation! “Recognizing the pain is important for us to have an overall sense of compassion for ourselves”.

  2. “Normalize” your experience of having a difficult time. You are not alone in your feelings and your experience. Understand that. Seek out others that get it. Roubicek and Thacker encourage you to say to yourself, “I am not alone in this” and “I don’t have to feel alone”.

  3. Be patient with yourself and show compassion to yourself. Hey, I know how it feels to be “decrepit” (my words). I hate it sometimes. And, sometimes, I am too hard on myself. I try to tell myself that I need to be as patient with myself as I would be with my husband or kids. You should too!

  4. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”Ask for help. If you need a meal delivered or your kids picked up from school. Or if you’re out of toilet paper and you have no energy to go to the store, ask for help! If you need to just recoup for a minute while the kids are screaming in the background, shut the closet door and breathe. Take a nap. Whatever it is that you need, you give it to yourself, okay?

My goal (not resolution) for this year is to keep myself resilient and empowered. But how I do that is by taking care of myself! I listen to music, I write, I exercise. I talk to people. I enjoy food! I will take care of myself this year, will you?

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