If you have been on a plane recently then you will have heard the airline safety message, “fit your own oxygen mask first before helping others, including children”. Does this sound a bit crazy…….. cruel….. unrealistic….. or down-right sensible?
Within our society, there is a foundational ethical principle that encourages us to act in ways that places our children’s needs ahead of our own. Hopefully, nobody is debating this one, children are minors, dependent on their responsible adults to keep them safe, guide them and provide them with what they need to grow into healthy little adults themselves.
Girls are raised into women and with a wonderful combination of influences from both ‘nature and nuture’ we often end up incredibly good supporters and service providers. We listen, empathise, cook, and clean… we bathe, mop, coo and lull. Now please don’t get me wrong here many Dad’s are wonderful nurturers as well!. Inarguably though we live in a society in which women have long been cast in the supporting roles.
Self-ish….is a dirty word.
What do you think is one of the worst insults a woman can hear… “you are selfish!” It directly questions our ability to put others needs first therefore challenges our self identity as good women / supporters/ nurturers.
How to know when to apply my oxygen mask first ?
What seems to be more controversial is knowing the point at which we have to stop, take stock of our own wellbeing and actually move our own self-care up the priorities ladder. Because if we don’t , then what are the consequences, on an airplane it is easy to understand, you would have seconds/ minutes perhaps before you would be unable to fit your own oxygen mask let alone assist a child to evacuate of a crashing aeroplane (god forbid any of us ever find ourselves in that situation). But only slightly less dramatic is the fact that so many women run themselves into the ground taking care of the people around them only to be heading for a breakdown themselves. And then what, once we are forced to stop and listen to our mind and body it is often a much harder road back to strength and recovery than if we were to prevent burnout in the first place.
So what am I saying… this weekend, this evening, today, do something for yourself. Turn off your phone, run a bath, go out with friends, say no to requests, take time for yourself, in whatever way, shape or form rejuvenates you. Because if you are always focused on looking after your kids, husband, in-laws, parents, siblings above looking after yourself… you will run out of air.
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