Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask, Before Helping Others

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What fuels your journey on a daily basis?

Besides food and water, we all need oxygen in order to live. Breathing is what gives us life and charges our bodies to move each day. The act of breathing – moving oxygen in and out of our lungs – is one thing our bodies do automatically.

Take a minute right now and pause for a breath. Inhale — fill your lungs — exhale. Feels good, right?

Sometimes breathing becomes so routine that we even forget about the act. Yet those times when we have to hold our breath or have trouble breathing due to illness, for example, serves to remind us how valuable the act of breathing is in our lives. We take it for granted.

As a swimmer, I am always reminded of how important breathing is, after I come up for air after a long dive.

In the constant flow of our daily lives, however, we somehow forget about how hard we are pushing our bodies, and the work they are doing each day to keep us going. We lose sight of the need that our amazing bodies seek refueling. Instead of running on empty, daily check-ins with ourselves are essential.

The airline safety announcement comes to mind: “Make sure that your own oxygen mask is on first, before helping others.” The same principle can be applied to life. I believe that you can’t help others in the most effective manner if you aren’t helping yourself first.

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Through my work, and from having a passion for helping others, I have come to know MANY kind, caring, people who are selflessly helping others with their oxygen masks, before putting on their own. The act of giving and caring for others can be as natural to these individuals as breathing.

Perhaps you are one of them, always GIVING away your time, energy, services, etc. to others in need or to causes you care about. Especially as an entrepreneur – you can always be helping others. But your own self requires care, too. You’ll need to find a balance.

So in a sense, when we exhale our oxygen by helping others, we also need to inhale and refuel ourselves. Don’t you wish you had a gauge like on a gas tank that tells you when you are running on empty?

Luckily, we are not machines. To be the best we can be for others we have to spend time daily paying attention to ourselves.

Finding ways to refuel my body, mind, and soul are what keep me going on a daily basis. Having friends and loved ones around who notice when your energy is getting depleted, too, also helps.

It’s taken me a while to realize that it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes, and it’s not a bad thing. You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. No one else can do it for you! Self-care isn’t selfish!

Remember: You need oxygen, too, to fuel your journey no matter how far your travels take you. Putting on your own air mask provides you with a constant supply of oxygen; it is beneficial to your helping more people in the long run.

Arianna Merritt Head ShotArianna Merritt Ed., is an innovative educator, community builder, and the voice behind Arianna’s Random Thoughts and The Self-Discovery Retreat. She is all about empowering dialogue to foster & facilitate healthy relationships with yourself and others. Drawing on her educational background in human development & applied psychology, combined with her love for technology and involvement in sport, Arianna aims to transform ideas into action. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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