The Oxygen Mask Theory

why is self care important

So the way the oxygen mask theory goes is that if you’re in the unfortunate position of being on a plane which is about to nose dive, you should secure YOUR oxygen mask before helping anyone else – including children. If you don’t, you risk not being able to help anyone at all. Because, to put it bluntly, you could be dead – or at least incapacitated.

A less catastrophic way to think about the theory is this: fill your own glass of water up first – only then, will you be able to pour one for others. Self care and self compassion isn’t selfish. It’s sensible. It means you can be the best, most valuable version of yourself. You’re then in the strongest position to add value to others.

I often work with clients who are ‘running on empty’ They might be trying to please everyone (impossible) or juggle ‘all the balls’ (unsustainable) But, in order to attempt to do all this, they have to sacrifice – or in other words declutter – other things. Sadly, one of the first things some declutter is spending time looking after themselves. Of course, this goes completely against the oxygen mask theory. And so it plays out that they are NOT in a good position to do anything to the best of their ability and may inadvertently end on leaning on the very people they want to help and protect.

taking care of yourself

So, I say no matter HOW much is going on, NEVER underestimate the importance of carving out time and space to take care of yourself. Top up your reserves. Strengthen those foundations. This can take many forms depending on what is important for you. It might be more sleep, eating better, going for a walk, visiting a coffee shop, reading. It doesn’t matter. If it relaxes you in a non toxic way, then you can be sure it’s a good thing.

So add something to the top of your to-do list today: something that will nourish you in some way. Don’t let it slip down that list! It’s the magic bullet to greater energy, productivity, worth, creativity and joy.

Thanks so much for reading!

A Tidy Mind

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