Anyone who’s been on an airplane can probably recite these lines by heart… “Secure your own mask first before assisting others.” These standard instructions are given on every airline, on every flight.
But how often do we actually listen?
The recitation is background noise. Our heads are buried in People magazine, our headphones are firmly in place, or we’re already dozing. Why?
We don’t expect an emergency.
There’s no turbulence, no need to evacuate the plane, and the air is flowing. Few people board a plane expecting the worst. Yet we’re given specific instructions so that we’re prepared for that unexpected event.
- Fasten your seatbelt
- Find the nearest exit (it could be behind you)
- Use your seat as a flotation device
- Secure your mask before helping those around you (including your children)
Makes sense… except maybe that last one. Our instinct, especially as moms, is to take care of our kids (and everyone else) first. We want to make sure they are safe, secure, and breathing. It goes against our grain to put ourselves above them.
But if we don’t have our own oxygen, how can we help others?
If we’re sucking air, gasping for breath, or disoriented from lack of oxygen, we can’t help. We want to help. Every fiber of us screams to reach out and grab that mask for someone else, but we are so depleted we have nothing to give. The tiny gulps we are sucking in are sucked right back out.
Filling our own tank allows us to function at full capacity. When our brain is energized, our bodies strengthened, and our hearts bursting, we have an abundance to give.
So, how do we do this?
- Exercise our physical muscles. Work out! Good health allows us to do things with our loved ones. We can take a long-walk, play frisbee, or just sit cross-legged on the floor while playing a game. If we’re tired, stiff, and fatigued all the time, we aren’t engaged.
- Exercise our happy muscles. The endorphins released from a good workout improves our mental well-being. You know what they say… “When momma’s not happy…” Even a ten minute walk can do wonders for our mood.
- Exercise our self-control muscles. Make good food decisions. Food is intimately connected to our energy levels, brain power, and emotional health. No one is forcing us to eat that double-decker chocolate cake or triple-stack nacho plate. Choose real, unprocessed foods that nourish the body.
- Exercise our NO muscles. So much of our overload and depletion comes from our over-scheduled, hectic lives. We fill our plate too full and have no margin for emergency situations for ourselves or others. Learn to say “no” to the shoulds. (read more here)
- Exercise our reward muscles. When we feel our oxygen tank getting low, fill it up with a life-giving treat. No, not food! Pampering with a mani or pedi, taking a walk on a beautiful day, or scheduling a date night with our spouse or coffee with a friend is restorative. Know what restores you and then do it!
We will all go through seasons of life that drain us. It’s nearly impossible run at maximum capacity all the time.
But we can commit to using the God-given muscles we’ve been given to prepare us for situations beyond our control. We can breathe fresh air into our lungs every day so we are prepared for whatever life throws at us.
Take care of you so you can take care of them.
So… how’s your oxygen level?