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Prioritizing your own needs often means saying no to someone else’s. This is what saying yes to yourself is all about.

Every day we need a reminder to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs.

Plane. Just before takeoff. Instructions from the staff: put on your own oxygen mask in case of unforeseen circumstances before helping anyone else with theirs. The most fundamental rule of survival is precisely that of self-care and self-love. The best advice I was ever given, during a very difficult life period, was to always put myself first so that I can be of use to all those who are important to me. Because no one can drink from an empty glass.

Situation: morning, coffee to go, rushing and hurrying, doing make-up in the car during a conference call. We forget to breathe.

Another one: morning, kindergarten, school, toys, pajamas, leftover breakfast, an acquaintance on the way while you take your child to school wants to chat, and you didn't even have time to brush your teeth. You remember your hairdresser who you haven’t seen in a while.

The story with the airplane oxygen masks is a great metaphor for self-care because it so clearly points to the necessity and importance of self-care. It’s somewhat ironic to tell someone: if you can’t take care of yourself, then take care of others, but it happens. There are numerous situations in our daily lives that are a call for help, and a reminder of an oxygen mask. The truth is, a vast majority of us very easily put off taking care of ourselves, until we get sick, tired or exhausted, and suddenly have no energy or strength to take care of the people who count on us. We then realize that we are deprived of the survival oxygen we crave so much. This is where the moment of realization is born – taking care of oneself is neither selfish nor a luxury we cannot afford. It is a necessity and a duty to those we love and care for.

Putting yourself first means you will sometimes have to say no – only then can you say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something and someone more important, more urgent, necessary to tend to, all the while ignoring that we are neglecting ourselves: in a situation where we realize that we have neglected our own need, it is good to remember the oxygen mask metaphor. You can encourage yourself with kind words like "I take care of myself to take better care of others" or a similar mantra that will remind you of the importance of self-care. It also helps to realize that taking care of yourself does not necessarily take a lot of time. Moreover, the best recipes for self-care are most often small, everyday rituals; for example, set aside half an hour for yourself at the beginning or end of the day for meditation, a bit of journaling, or just taking a deep breath. A quick cold shower or scented bath that can mature into a half-hour self-coddle session.

Whichever way you decide to go, you’ll make a small gesture of self-love, which will pay off in the long run for both you and those you love. The oxygen we need is everywhere; sometimes we just need a reminder to breathe.


 Authoress: Sandra Stanić

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