HOW GET BETTER AT SELF-CARE AND PUT YOUR OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST

Almost every single client who comes to me in need of some career/business clarity struggles with a big, glaring block that's keeping them FAR away from work happiness, fulfillment, and alignment: An inability to (or at least discomfort with) putting her oxygen mask on first.  

Remember the last time you were on a plane and the safety spiel started?  Know how there's a model oxygen mask?  Flight attendants usually choose this moment to make a joke about choosing your favorite kid if you have multiple people around you who need your help, and it's mildly funny, but I guarantee if the oxygen masks popped out of my airplane ceiling, I would spend so long making sure everyone else could breathe, I would probably pass out in the process.  

This is not a good thing.  It's not necessarily a terrible thing, but it's certainly not a thing that serves you in getting what you want out of your job and your life.

It makes total and complete sense that you struggle to put yourself first.  If you landed on this page, you are a difference-maker.  You're a helper, a light-shiner, a person with passion and purpose and creativity and dreams that are bigger than just making money and buying expensive shoes (though I'll take the money and shoes, too).  You want to have an impact.  It's not something you try at...it's just who you are.  You can't turn it off.  When you are incredibly good at seeing others and meeting their needs, meeting your needs first is going to be a struggle sometimes.  BUT...It is a struggle that you can overcome.  

 

You can save the world AND take care of yourself.  I promise.

 

Get better at self-care

 

Okay, confession time: I suck at self-care.  Like, real bad.  I often forget to eat lunch when I'm working and then eat way too much lunch around 4PM.  Spoiler alert: the lunch in question is usually not kale-based.  My point is that I am a professional coach and entrepreneur who deals with this on a daily basis, and I still have to remind myself to walk my talk, so if self-care is new for you, cut yourself some slack.  It's an ongoing journey.  

 

HERE'S WHAT WORKS FOR MY CLIENTS {AND FOR ME}

 

#1: Give YOUR Self-Care MISSION a WHY

So you want to get better at this whole self-care thing.  Great!  Why? Why is it so intensely important right now at this point in your life?  What is your lack of self-care costing you?  I can't completely buy in to anything without an extremely compelling reason behind it.  I knew I was frazzled and wanted to feel better, but that wasn't enough, so when I started my self-care mission, I had to give myself a big, important WHY.  After thinking and experimenting and talking it out, I discovered: I am a MUCH better wife, friend, coach, and business lady when I am getting enough sleep, eating actual food, moving my body, and exercising my mind and soul.  My family, friends, and business are my entire reasons for being.  I'm on the planet to empower women to make intentional change in the world, and I can't do that well if I'm burned out and frazzled due to crappy self-care practices.  So that's my big WHY.  What is your big, underlying purpose for self-care?  There's no right or wrong as long as it's intensely meaningful for you.

 

#2: NAME YOUR BARRIERS TO SELF-CARE

If you know you want to make time for self-care, but you're just not doing it, there's a reason.  You probably have a barrier or value or belief that you're choosing instead of self-care.  It's really, really important to understand what these barriers are if you're going to move past them.  For example, I have a crappy belief about productivity that goes something like, "Being productive = being worthy."  I also have a crappy, outdated rule for myself that "work comes before play, rest, and fun."  I don't actually even like these beliefs and rules, but I tend to unconsciously go back to them.  Dismantling blocks and barriers can be a lot, but just owning up to the fact that I believe work should come before rest takes the teeth out it and gives me a greater level of consciousness around why I'm struggling to let myself take a break and eat when I'm hungry.  Make a list of all of the external forces that block you from having the self-care you want (time, money, support, etc.).  Now make a list of all the internal forces holding you back from self-care (crappy outdated beliefs, fears, confusion, etc).  Start attacking the internal stuff you have control over.  Get support and accountability from a coach, partner, or friend.

 

#3: Hone in on your Burnout Signals

Burnout and stress can be beautiful, helpful gifts.  When you feel burnout coming on, it should be a giant, flashing sign saying, "Something is out of alignment here.  Let's get back on track."  What does burnout feel like for you?  For me, it usually shows up as a racing heart, tears, and then shut-down mode.  Ideally, we want to recognize the burnout-is-on-its-way signals before we get to a full-blown burnout meltdown.  The signals of impending burnout are subtler for me. Instead of a racing heart, it's shoulders hiked up to my ears.  It's not quite tears, but it's extreme crankiness and eye-rolling.  When I feel a burnout coming on, I make it a mission to stop, breathe, take a walk, and consider what's out of alignment and what needs to happen to get back in the groove.  Sometimes just stopping for 5 minutes is enough to do the trick.

 

#4: Create an Ongoing Maintenance Plan

When you're in burnout, you know it.  Emergency, 911, I-need-some-self-care-now measures are really important to getting calm, fed, and rested, and I'm going to give you a buttload of resources for that in a few weeks; however, an ongoing maintenance plan that makes self-care a priority BEFORE it gets to burnout territory?  That's a game-changer.  What are you doing on a daily or weekly basis to ensure you are putting your oxygen mask on first?  For me, if something isn't on my calendar, it's not going happen, so I had to create a mini-self-care maintenance plan and commit it to my Google calendar so it would actually happen.  Make a list of your top ten favorite self-care practices...they could be coffee with a friend, a pedicure, a yoga class, journaling, eating chocolate slowly, whatever works.  Now look at your calendar and build in a time devoted to one of those activities. Schedule it and treat it as sacred.  Turn off your tech or get someone else to watch the baby or whatever it is that you need to do to commit.  Now make this a daily, weekly, or monthly habit. What's a reasonable amount of time you can devote to self-care that's better than what you're doing now but reasonable for real life?  Decide, schedule, and get support.  You are worth it.

 

Understand that this is truly an ongoing journey, and the goal is not to do it perfectly all the time.  As long as you're making progress, you're golden.  And with self-care, sometimes progress is taking a nap.

 

If this was helpful, click the share buttons below and talk to me about your insights.  

NEXT WEEK IN THE "PUT YOUR OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST" SERIES, WE'LL TACKLE HOW TO DEAL WITH THE GUILT THAT POPS UP AROUND QUITTING.  

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