Put Your Oxygen Mask on First


Most women are caregivers in some regard; we care for our families, our co-workers, our homes, our environment. The list is endless. When we care for others, whether it is professional or personal, we are engaging deeply in the service of life. As humans we rely on the attention and care we give and receive; it makes us whole.

However, the role of caregiver can lead to high levels of stress and burnout that can result in physical and emotional health imbalances. When we care for others, sometimes unfortunately, we forget that first we have to care for ourselves. It’s like flight attendants always say – put YOUR oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else with theirs.

But all too often, our well-being as providers becomes secondary to the well-being of those in our care.

Caregivers can benefit from learning how to cultivate strength, energy and balance; to replenish ourselves so we don’t get sick and burnout. By developing and expressing compassion toward ourselves and learning how thinking influences we feel, we are more able to add balance to our lives.

If you’re a caregiver, think about how to incorporate a few of these into your life to front load self-care and arm yourself against burnout.

Change thinking

  • Instead of “I’ll never get it all done,” try “OK, a ton to do, how can I prioritize?”
  • Ruminating? Use a thought-stopping technique.

Mindful practices for self-care

  • Gratitude works: What is one thing that you feel grateful for in this moment?
  • Set a few minutes aside for at least one stress management technique per day (breathing, stretching, eating breakfast)

Create balance by adding fun…even just a little

  • Work Work Work: Interrupt the pattern with a funny YouTube video – any video will do
  • Give someone, anyone, an honest smile and watch their eyes


4 responses to “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First”

  1. Maria Tadic says:

    These are really great tips. As a newly wed with a new house and a new husband to take care of, I find myself stressed out. I can’t get it all done in one day. I’ve been trying to be easier on myself – it doesn’t matter if i can’t get all the chores done in one day! I’m going to start incorporating more of these tips!

    • cindy says:

      I love the way you framed this. As soon as I read ‘put your oxygen mask on first’ I knew right where you were going with it…isn’t it so true!

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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