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Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Have you ever taken a trip on an airplane? If so, you’ve likely heard the schpeal that the steward gives just before take-off, advising parents to put their oxygen masks on BEFORE putting masks on their children.

Now imagine this scenario: There’s a bunch of turbulence, the plane is shuddering and everyone is in a panic. The oxygen masks drop down from the ceiling, and your children look at you with frightened faces. And you’re supposed to take care of yourself first.

This goes against our natural maternal instincts. Normally we moms care for our children, to the detriment of ourselves. We feed them first, let them go to the bathroom first, make sure they’re clean and dry and comfortable before cleaning up ourselves or any messes in our home. We put them first, as a natural, protective measure for our offspring. It’s a perfectly normal instinct that humans have cultivated in order to protect our progeny.

Back to that oxygen mask thing.

Since everyone’s body is different, these times may be off for your physiology by a few seconds. Generally speaking, the following happens when the human brain is deprived of oxygen:

  • Between 30 – 180 seconds you may lose consciousness
  • Cells begin dying after 1 minute
  • After three minutes, brain damage becomes likely as neurons begin to suffer severe damage
  • Death becomes imminent at five minutes without oxygen
  • If you are without oxygen for 10 minutes or more, a coma is certain, death is likely and irreversible brain damage is likely.
  • Survival is nearly impossible after 15 minutes

If you’re on a plane with your children and something like this happens, the reason you want to put your mask on first is so you’re actually able to put one on your kiddos. The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be to make wise decisions. We start to get a little brain-foggy, and before too long, goofiness takes over, and the world starts ending around us without us even noticing. Take a look at the oh-so-cool Destin Sandlin from Smarter Everyday as he experiences oxygen deprivation to see this effect in action.

There’s a brilliant metaphor here. Have you recognized it?

What priority do you place on self-care?

I know that I often forgot self-care in order to provide for my family.  How about you? Do you forget to eat breakfast or lunch? Do you put off showering because it’s a challenge whilst caring for children? Do you get enough sleep? How about intimacy with your partner?

I’ve experienced the real, dark place we go when we limit our self-care. Things came to a head for me, and my world got very small, very quickly. I got sick, an ambulance was called to my home and even after a few months, I’m still reeling from the events. In the end, I discovered that I had some pretty severe food allergies, had been malnourishing myself for months and had allowed cortisol to rise to unhealthy levels. What I thought was a heart attack turned out to be “reverse panic attacks” – something that happens even when you don’t feel stress or overwhelmed, but your body DOES.

Our beautiful and miraculous bodies are constantly communicating with us, if we’d only listen. Our fast-paced lives are a deterrent from this natural communication. We must stop and listen to understand what our body is trying to tell us. We must take the time to reflect and mull over our circumstance. It’s the only way to discover that we just might be neglecting ourselves.

One way to enhance and understand our body’s natural communication is to utilize a form of meditation called “bodysensing”. I first learned about bodysensing reading Richard Millar’s Yoga Journal post on the subject. Your body is constantly giving you subtle clues as to its condition. When we miss out on these clues or don’t react to correct the behaviors causing them, our body “turns up the volume”. This is when we become ill, experience pain or dis-ease, encounter brain fog or fatigue, etc. As you learn to observe your body’s natural messages, you’ll find that your body no longer needs to “shout” out its neglect. If you can recognize the signs of stress, fatigue, dehydration, or malnourishment and respond to these cues with a mindful and healthy approach, your body will return the favor with vitality and strength, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I’m getting much better. I’ve altered and enhanced my diet and I’m conscious of my body’s need for nourishment. I’m taking more time for myself, closing my office door when I need a quiet space to focus, getting great sleep, quality time with my husband, Danger, and making my Miracle Morning a priority.

Put your Oxygen Mask on First

Now you tell me in the comments below – Where is your self-care falling short? What messages has your body been trying to tell you that you’ve been denying or not hearing? What are your plans for rejuvenation?

My best to your bod, Janeen.