Everything you need to know about self-care you learned from flying


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Everything I need to know about self-care I learned from flying

Recently I was flying home from a conference in Portland, Oregon. After an exciting (yet exhausting) day of conference mixing and mingling, I collapsed like jello into my assigned seat. I was ready for my flight home and 3-hours of uninterrupted quiet time.

*cue zen moment* 

That is, until the flight attendants began their safety procedures. 

Now, if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve tuned them out a time or two. But on this occasion, I felt pulled to listen. And one of their phrases (which I know I’ve heard a million times) made the hairs on my arm stand upright. 

And it was this. 

In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

Simple yet profound advice

Flight attendants know that in a time of pressure change or turbulence, we would be no good if we didn’t take care of ourselves first. 

Why is that? Because without oxygen we could become dizzy, lightheaded or heaven forbid, pass out completely. If any of those were to occur, we would then lose the ability to take care of our loved ones or others on the flight. 

Taking care of ourselves first allows us to fully take care of others.

But our days are not typically spent at 35,000 feet where self-care is priority #1

Instead, with our feet planted firmly on the ground, we compromise our self-care daily. And we do it so often, we may not even realize we’re doing it. 

From deadline driven late nights at the office (when we should be sleeping) to dinner events and friendly outings (when we really wanted to say “rain check?”).

We say yes a lot more than we say no.

It’s a trap we’ve all fallen into. We say yes, because we want to be accommodating. We say yes, because we’re concerned of other people’s perceptions. We say yes, in an attempt to get ahead. And we say yes, because we simply don’t know how to say no.

But really, it’s the old fear and vulnerability monster rearing it’s head. 

How will I be perceived? What will my boss think of me? Will he/she think I’m a slacker if I don’t stay late? What will my friends think if I bail on dinner? I don’t want them to judge me. 

And that monster leads to burn-out and exhaustion from too many yes’s. 

So how do you re-prioritize yourself?

Sometimes all it takes is a pause.

When someone requests something of you, take a brief moment to breathe before answering. You can even count to three in your head if that helps. The key here is to eliminate your knee-jerk (and sometimes too immediate) yes response. 

Then, when you do answer (with full clarity of mind) you can decide if this is something you truly want to do. Will it make you happy? Will it bring you joy? Will it enrich your life?

If you answered yes to any of those, then enthusiastically commit to the request. If not, politely decline. Your health and sanity will thank you.

Next up is a non-negotiable. You absolutely MUST schedule self-care time! Put it on your calendar, just as you would a business meeting or doctor appointment. Then check the little box in your calendar app that makes it a recurring daily appointment. 

Because self-care is a daily necessity – and you, my friend, are worth it! 

Your self care appointment could be 20 minutes of meditation in the morning before breakfast or 30 minutes in the afternoon for a nature walk. It could also be 20 minutes of stretching at your desk or 20 minutes entrenched in a book. 

The key is that it’s daily, it’s simple and it’s all you. Your self-care appointment allows you to recharge in spurts of 20-30 minutes. To think or not think. And to just be. So enjoy it, revel in it and soak it up.

Because with the hustle and bustle of daily life, we need all the reminders we can get. To put on our own oxygen mask first and breathe deeply. 

How do you prioritize your self-care? What special something do you do for yourself every day? Do you find you have difficulty saying no?

Extra Resource: The Power of No, by James Altucher


About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Great article Lisa! So many of us have the bad habit of taking others before we take care of ourselves. Also, the idea of scheduling self-care on a daily basis is critical. I think that scheduling it will help me to practice self-care every day. Thanks!

    1. Thanks AmiCietta! The way I see it, we schedule doctor’s appt’s (when we get sick), so why don’t we schedule self-care appt’s (to stay well)? Subtle mind shifts. :)

  2. This was great! I always thinking of the fitting your mask first thing, especially in times when I start to get the guilts for doing it, like maybe I should be playing with my kids or something. But yes, I try and practice it regularly, and I’m a happier mum for it.