How many permission slips do you fill out for other people? I bet the person asking you to sign it never gives it a thought – they just expect you to sign it. So who do you have to sign YOUR permission slip? Is that a soft little giggle coming from you, thinking “yeah right!”. Oh maybe – you are the one that just scared the cat out of his afternoon nap with the loudly barked sarcastic laugh and the audible “Yeah RIGHT!”. Well, I have got your back, and I have your permission slip to Take Care of Yourself First directly following this paragraph! It even has a “created on” date (today) but there is no expiration date on it. I’ll leave that choice up to you. It can be a one time splurge for you or it can be used on an ongoing basis.
I hope whether you opened up the permission slip file (and good for you if you even went and printed it out!) or if you didn’t have the time, access to a printer, or just plain didn’t have the inclination to do something so silly…you understand how serious I am about the idea that you have the permission to Take Care of Yourself First. We have a tendency to put others needs in front of our own, and when the day is done we realize that we don’t even have the strength to take care of ourselves. There is a fundamental flaw in that way of thinking, and I’m going to risk using another well-known directive in the airline industry that should help to illustrate the point.
Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your own mask first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
Secure your own mask first, and then assist the other person. Wow. We know it. We get it. But do you or I really practice it? Here is the honest truth, if you don’t take care of yourself you are going to start to see the consequences.
- inability to sleep
- health problems
- reduced effectiveness
It might take some time for these consequences to come on. Maybe you will slowly start to notice a change. You’ll start thinking to yourself, I really need to make some changes and get my energy back up to normal. Or maybe you will be given some news that rattles you to the core and the time has come for you to make some changes, and that is the only option that you have in front of you. Now is your chance to take care of yourself first and then turn back to that care-giver, spouse, mother, father, sibling, mentor, teacher, coach or any other role that you give of yourself to help others when you are at the top of your game.
How to Take Care of Yourself First
- Get enough rest for you
- Eat healthy food for optimal energy
- Get regular exercise
- Set aside renewal time every day (10 – 30 minutes a day where you can take stock of your own life and do what’s best for you that day)
- Keep important doctor appointments (physicals, ordered lab work to watch results over time, vision, dental, hearing, and going in when something serious becomes an issue)
- Gain inspiration (keep a gratitude journal, get inspired by a book/music/news story, etc., stay in touch with friends, never stop learning, try something new)
I’d love to hear what kinds of things you do you take care of yourself first. Please post any ideas you have in the comments section below. And have a great rest of the week.