Self-care seems like a foreign concept to many of us; reserved for people who have the means to hire butlers and nannies and go out to lunch in the middle of a Tuesday.

The rest of us are too busy scrambling from one activity to another. Our world revolves around others needs, whether they be family, co-workers or friends. There is not enough time in the day to think about ourselves.

Besides, it would be selfish for us to avoid someone else’s needs so that we can serve our own, right?


Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Most of us have been on an airplane and heard the Flight Attendant go over the safety procedures. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask before assisting others.

At first, this suggestion sounds absurd. Don’t we want to make sure that other people are safe before we care for ourselves? But let’s look at it from a logical perspective.

Sure, we might be able to help one person before our oxygen supply dwindles, rendering us useless to anyone else. Or worse, our oxygen supply is cut off completely. I’ll let you fill in the blanks as to what the consequences of that would be.

In an airplane emergency, the first step to being helpful to anyone else is your ability to breathe. Putting your oxygen mask on before helping anyone else will allow you to support twice the amount of people.

This concept is no different in real life. Think about it. When you are run down, are you at your best? I know I am not. I am probably at my worst. I feel lethargic, grumpy and short tempered.

The Excuses and Realities About Self-Care

The Excuse

Nothing will get done if I don’t do it myself.

This is known as catastrophizing. We tell ourselves the story that we are the only person capable of doing all the things. If we don’t do them, they won’t get done.

The Reality

You are not the only one  capable

Why do we think that we have to be the person doing all the things? Not only does this put an excessive amount of pressure on us, but it also gives messages to those around us that they are incapable of helping. It’s like the mom that does everything for her child. She thinks she is helpful, but she is silently telling her child that she is not capable of doing for herself.

The Excuse

Self-care is selfish

If I take time for ourselves, it means I care more about myself than I care about other people.

The Reality

Self-Care is Necessary

Taking time for yourself and taking time for other people are not mutually exclusive. Caring for yourself is essential to your ability to care for other people adequately.

The Excuse

There is Not Enough Time in the Day

You are a busy person. You are up with the sun and don’t go to sleep until at least 11 PM. The time in between is spent working, doing chores, running children from activity to activity, making dinner, volunteering, making doctor’s appointments, reminding people of doctor’s appointments, making sure the calendar is up-to-date. The list goes on, am I right?

The Reality

If You Want to Do Something, You Will Find a Way

We all have the same 24 hours in the day. If we wanted to take time for ourselves throughout the day, we would. Instead, we lean on the excuse of being too busy.

Somewhere along the line, we have given ourselves a warped message that the busier we are, the more valuable we are. The truth of the matter is, when we take time for ourselves we are more useful to everyone else, and more at peace with ourselves.

So now you know why self-care is essential, but you are still struggling with finding the time. The good news is that you do not have to devote hours at a time practicing self-care.

Short, Simple Self-Care Solutions

  • 5-minute morning meditation
  • A lunchtime walk
  • Getting up 20 minutes early to exercise
  • Mid-day mindfulness exercises

If you have 5 minutes, you have time to practice self-care. The biggest battle is recognizing that you are worth it. This requires a shift in mindset from fixed (if I take time for myself then it means I won’t have time for other people), to growth (taking time for myself is necessary to my mental health and increases my productivity).

Maya Angelou once said that when people know better they do better. Now that you know why caring for yourself is important, and you know that you can do it in short bursts throughout the day, you can do better. It will take time to change your behavior, but I promise that it is worth it.

So go put on your oxygen mask.


Monica Fugedi, LPC, NCC, CCATP
Wellness Counselor











*original article written by author at

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