If you’ve ever taken a flight, you know about the safety announcement before take-off. Whether it’s a big flight with fancy screens in the seat-back in front of you, or just the stewards standing in the aisle pointing towards the exits, every flight has them. And in every announcement they say:
Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.
That’s the theme of today’s post. Self-care. As many people have told me over the years, you can’t take care of people if you aren’t taking care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t…..unless YOU come first.
It’s not an easy concept to remember. I’m getting better at it (I’m also learning there’s a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence, but that’s something to talk about another time!)
You might know I’m a social worker. I work, therefore, in a social environment. You might also know I’m an introvert, and I don’t actually like “people”. Somehow, I’ve ended up called to a profession where people fill my every day. Needy people. Demanding people. Traumatised people. Angry or sad people. Sometimes, rude people. And it’s my job to give myself to them, day in and day out, week in – week out – all the time.
Not actually ALL the time – the organisation I work for is good at establishing boundaries and ensuring that at 5pm I can switch my phone & emails off and trust that the OOH team will take care of things until morning, when I switch back on again – but that doesn’t mean that all these people don’t remain in my head, as I drive home, make dinner, interact with more people (I have patient friends!), try and get to sleep.
So, self-care is important and as I’ve said, it’s been a learning curve for me – trying to establish what self-care looks like is different for everyone, but here’s what it looks like for me…