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by Maddie Lukens, MA

I know many of us haven’t been on an airplane in a while, but do you remember the last time you flew? One thing flight attendants talk about before every take-off is the safety features of the aircraft. One of those features mentioned are the oxygen masks that will magically appear out of the ceiling above your seat, if the cabin suddenly loses pressure. What the flight attendants always note is that you must put on your own mask first, before helping someone else. Initially this sounds counter-intuitive; we think: “I’d better help my kid first, or the elderly lady next to me that can’t reach up to retrieve the mask.” But the reason our kind flight attendants encourage us to secure our own mask first, is to ensure that we are able and capable to help the person next to us. If your mask isn’t on and you’re not prepared, you might end up being able to help the person next to you.

I think it is really important for us to view self-care in this same way. Too many times we feel burnt out, discouraged, and empty by the end of the week. Heck, maybe it’s the end of Tuesday and we feel this way. A bit of self-care throughout the week can be just enough to get you through to the end of your week. During the time of COVID and ever-circulating news updates and articles, it is imperative we make time to care for ourselves. Yes, I’m talking to you, moms, dads, caregivers, teachers, doctors – fellow humans!

Let’s first define self-care then we’ll dive a bit deeper into self-care and why it is so important.

What is self-care? Not only is it a buzz word heard flying around in conversations about mental health and the “helping professions,” but it has become an increasingly normalized word that many people will use to refer to how they are caring for themselves. Our friends over at PsychCentral define self-care as: “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”

Self-care is something only you have the power to do. This means building time into your day or planning for it in your schedule. I know for me, self-care is easy to push off a day or two because sometimes I forget or I get lazy. An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the things we do to care for ourselves shouldn’t feel like a burden. They need to be things that are enjoyable and life-giving.

Neglecting to meet our own needs can leave us feeling frustrated, irritable, angry, sad, anxious. When we’re anxious, overwhelmed, or feeling any type of negative emotion, we might have digestive troubles or a difficult time sleeping, for example. Although each person is different and how you experience emotions might be unique to you, prioritizing self-care is one of the best ways to manage the heavy, negative emotions, like anxiety, sadness, or loneliness.

Online Counseling in Montgomery County, PA

Maybe you’ve never heard of self-care, or never practiced it, and you don’t know where to begin. At Lime Tree Counseling in Ambler, PA, our counselors are passionate about caring for ourselves and one another. We would love to brainstorm ways you can better care for yourself and help you implement a new way to manage your anxiety, stress in life, or depression you might be facing. For some people, anxiety treatment and seeing a therapist regularly is a form of self-care. We strongly encourage it. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or free phone consultation.

Sometimes we choose to not care for ourselves because we really don’t believe we are worthy and valued enough to be cared for. Let me be the first to remind you – this is so far from the truth. You are worth caring for, and choosing to do something that brings you joy and enhances your life is NOT selfish. It’s actually like you’re putting on your oxygen mask so you can help your family and friends do the same.