I am a person who often struggles with self-care. I’m pretty good about going to the gym, but I will find a reason to postpone a haircut. I eat gluten-free in my own home, but will say “it’s fine” when friends choose restaurants that don’t offer food options for me. I binge on news media on the weekends, and I dwell on problems I cannot fix immediately.

When I do take time for myself, I feel extraordinarily guilty about it. As a result, I flirt with burnout on the regular. It’s not good.

As we enter the holiday season, many of us will be taking flights to visit family and friends. If you travel regularly, you already know that at the start of every flight, the cabin crew will play a video or give a demonstration that includes a bit about what to do if the cabin suddenly loses pressure. Here’s what American Airlines tells customers in their pre-flight video:

If the aircraft cabin loses pressure, the panel above your seat containing oxygen masks will open automatically. While remaining seated, with your seatbelt fastened, quickly reach for the nearest mask and pull down firmly to start the flow of oxygen. Put the yellow cup over your nose and mouth. Slip the elastic band over your head, and tighten by pulling the straps on either side.  Breathe normally. Even though oxygen is flowing, the plastic bag may not inflate. Always put your own mask on first, and then help others near you.

Let me repeat that last part: Always put your own mask on first, and then help others near you.

I know I am not alone in feeling like, since November 8, the cabin has lost pressure. I care deeply about my community, and so my first instinct is to reach out and help others near me. I need to be reminded to put on my own mask first.

Now, more than ever before, it is important for us to assess our well-being before springing into action. If, like me, you struggle with self-care, I encourage you to try using this free, interactive flow chart. I found it extremely helpful.

Take your time as you follow the instructions. Ignore that itchy feeling to rush through steps or read ahead. It is okay to take a minute (or an hour) for you, so that you can be your best self when helping others later.

Make sure you’ve got your mask on.

With love and solidarity,

-Madeline

 

 

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