Put Your Oxygen Mask on First


put on your breathing mask firstMost 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

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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