“Secure your own mask first before assisting others.” Standard emergency instructions on every airline, on every flight. As the flight attendants recite their lines, how often do we actually listen?
The recitation is background noise. Our heads are buried in our magazine, we’re scrolling the media options, or we’re already dozing. Why?
We don’t expect an emergency.
There’s no turbulence, no need to evacuate, and 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)
It all makes sense. Except maybe that last one. Our instinct, especially for women, is to take care of everyone else first, especially our kids. We want to make sure they are safe, secure, and breathing. So, it goes against our grain to put me, myself, and I first.
But if we can’t breathe, how can we help anyone else?
If we’re gasping for breath or disoriented from lack of oxygen, we have nothing to give. Even if we want to help. As our heart and mind pleads with us to grab that mask to assist someone else, we are physically and emotionally incapable. The tiny sips of air aren’t enough to two.
But, when we fill our tank first, we can help. With our brain energized, our body strengthened, and our lungs bursting, we are equipped to offer a lifeline to others.
So, how do we do this?
Here are four ways to breathe in a busy world.
- Exercise your physical muscles. Work out! Better flexibility, better mood, and better endurance allow you to do things with our loved ones. You can take a long-walk, play frisbee, or just sit cross-legged on the floor while playing a game. If you’re tired, stiff, and fatigued, you aren’t engaged.
- Exercise your self-control muscles. Make smart food decisions. Food is intimately connected to your energy levels, brain power, and emotional health. Eating that double-decker chocolate cake or triple-stack nacho plate is fine once in awhile. But choose real, unprocessed foods that energize your body as often as possible.
- Exercise your NO muscles. Stress and depletion is created from over-scheduled, hectic lives. When your life is too full you have no margin for the unexpected. Building down time into your schedule isn’t optional. It’s a necessity. Learn to say “no” to the shoulds. (read more here)
- Exercise your reward muscles. When we feel your oxygen tank getting low, fill it up with a life-giving treat. Not food! Talk a walk on a beautiful day, schedule some pampering time, or schedule a date night with your spouse or coffee with a friend. It’s restorative.
We all have days and seasons that drain us. We can’t avoid them.
We can, however, use our God-given muscles to prepare us when they come. We can breathe fresh air into our body, mind, and soul every day so we have the energy to help ourselves and others through the difficult days.
It’s starts with taking care of you so you can take care of them.
How’s your oxygen level?