Put Your Own Mask On First
By: Tim Skjellerup on February 14, 2016
While on the plane waiting for take off on the way to our honeymoon last year, my wife and I got the experience of sitting through the safety briefing that the flight attendants give before every flight.
When they got to the part about “in case of cabin depressurization” they explained that an oxygen mask would fall from the ceiling and than you should put your own mask on first.
“Wow” I thought to myself “my first inclination would be to make sure my wife had hers on first and our children if they were with us…” But then it occurred to me that if I wasted time trying to help everyone else first I would most likely pass out due to a lack of oxygen and then I wouldn’t be any good to anybody.
This can also be true in our daily lives. How many times have you skipped a workout or 6, compromised on your nutrition, hydration or rest in order to make sure that everyone else around you was taken care of? I admit that there have been times in my life when I have neglected my own self care in order to make sure everyone else was happy. The ultimate result was an out of shape, over weight, and miserable me. There are certain things that I have to do in order to keep my sanity. Things like getting enough sleep, working out regularly, and eating well. When I neglect those things I start a slow, downward spiral and become less effective at everything else that is important to me.
Here are five tips on how to “put your own mask on first” in order to help keep balance in the other important areas of your life.
1. Set clear boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no
Make sure your friends, significant other, family members, and anyone else you interact with on a daily basis has a clear understanding of your personal needs. Make it very clear that it is important to you that they respect those needs. In return be sure to be flexible and respectful of their needs as well. If someone asks you for something that you realistically can not do or give them don’t be afraid to tell them “no”. Often times you can work with them to come up with solution that can work for both of you.
2. Ask for help
Don’t think you have to do it all on your own. If you need time for meal prep or a training session but you don’t have anyone to watch the kids, ask a friend if they would be willing to do a kid swap. “You watch my kids while I work out and I will watch your kids while you work out.” Or “Give me your grocery list and some money and I will grab what we both need and you watch the kids. Then we can both work in my kitchen while the kids play together.”
3. Do it on purpose
Have a plan of action and clear written goals of what you want to accomplish, how your going to accomplish it and when you are going to make things happen. Share these goals with your support network. A wise man once said “Life is like a game of chess, you always have to be a couple moves ahead.” Make a plan, discuss it with you family and figure out a way to make it work for everyone.
4. Train your family
Start creating family habits that are conducive to good time management. Create systems that make life easier for everyone. Delegate chores so that no one is “doing it all” be fair and don’t be afraid to put your kids to work at age appropriate jobs. It will instill a strong work ethic and show them the value of sharing the household work and contributing to the family. The rule in our house is that when mom or dad is working out that’s their time and unless the house is on fire, someone is bleeding out or there is some other real emergency, that’s our time. In return the kids get their time and we leave them alone. Remember… fairness counts.
5. Don’t get frustrated and be flexible
Its never going to be perfect. There are times when the system will fall apart. You can’t compromise with a crying newborn, people get sick, cars break down, and sometimes life happens. When your system falls apart, make sure that you don’t. Press on, do the best you can with what you have and keep positive, tomorrow is a new day. For example, cant get to the gym… do a 30 minute session of high intensity body weight exercise in the living room. Or, you forgot you healthy lunch. Don’t just throw up your hands and opt for fast food. Find a healthy alternative and stick with the program.
Remember, there is a solution to every situation and ultimately it’s up to you to make sure you are hitting your goals. Doing the things that make you the best person you can be helps everyone. Keep balance, don’t feel guilty and remember that you are going to be much more effective when you put your own mask on first.
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