You are on a commercial airliner waiting for takeoff. The flight attendant starts the mandatory safety talk. When they get to the point where they advise you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, you might question that advice, especially if you are travelling with a small child or someone else that may need your help. But in fact, the best way you can assist your travelling companion is to make sure you are in a position to actually help them — and you can’t do that if you are passing out from lack of oxygen. That is the essence of self care.
The World Health Organization defines self care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” So how do we do that?
Many of us are doing it now. By taking the time to do things that relax you, move you, engage you, motivate you, you relieve stress and anxiety. Just that alone can improve your health and mental state. When you do things for you that make you happy, you are better able to share those good feelings with others. Like the oxygen mask on the airplane, you cannot give your happy to others if you don’t have it in the first place. When you are able to share in your happiness, they get all the health benefits that come with it.
Do one thing every day that makes you happy.
Self care can mean different things to different people. For different ideas, we asked some of our instructors what they do for self care. Melanie is practically addicted to exercise. Her newest love is pickleball. Its a fast-paced game played on a court similar to but not quite the same as paddle ball. In addition to the health benefits, the movement produces endorphins and reduces anxiety. She not only loves to play, but loves the newfound friendships she’s made on the court. And who can’t use a few new friends to share in your passion?
Jennifer loves to curl up with a good book. She tells us that reading takes her away to other worlds, to other times, helps her get to know other people (real and fictional), and gives her a better understanding of life. Plus books are a great escape away from the ups and downs of everyday life and another great stress-reducer.
And me, I love to get lost in some music. It has always been a big part of my life. Like many, I enjoy listening to music and find it can calm, energize, evoke emotion, and inspire. I’ve also studied music, including piano, cello and voice. When I sit down to play or sing a piece, I easily get lost in the intricacies of a composition and how small changes can make a big difference. It can be a mindful experience; it can also take me to new places.
Whatever you choose, self care should be something you plan to do that you like to do. It should not be a chore. Commit to it to ensure you make time for it on your schedule. In addition to these pleasurable activities, make sure you are also taking care of the basics for good health: exercise (we highly recommend Pilates!); maintain a healthy, nutritious diet; get enough sleep; and check in with your doctor and other health professionals to keep you on the track to good health.