Put On Your Own Air Mask First

How taking care of yourself helps you be present for others

One of Authentic Agility’s goals is to help people connect with one another in new, authentic, and eye-opening ways. Our games empower you to ask your friends, families, partners, and even strangers questions that you wouldn’t normally think to ask, and they give you the opportunity to express yourself in new ways. Being present and open with others is a crucial step in forming deeper and more meaningful relationships, but an equally important practice to develop is the art of being good to ourselves. Self-care helps make your relationships stronger, more solid, and healthier.

Self-Care and Preventing Burnout

woman looking at the view of the mountains

Self-care is more than a buzzword! So many of us lead lives that are absolutely packed with work and responsibilities that our idea of self-care is, at most, drinking a glass of wine at the end of the night or zoning out to Netflix. But that is simply not enough. The idea of self-care has been around for decades, regularly mentioned in medical journals discussing how caregivers like nurses, doctors, and psychologists must develop positive habits to take care of themselves in order to prevent burnout.

While caregivers have been aware of the concept of self-care for quite a while, the rest of us are just recently beginning to understand how our busy, constantly connected lives can cause us to develop unhealthy habits and detach from the things that truly matter. While a glass of wine and Netflix can feel good, they’re not going to sustain you in the long run. Here are some ideas for true self-care and preventing burnout:

Develop an exercise routine

woman running up a set of stairs

Yes, the ever-dreaded exercise routine. Dreaded, that is, until you get in a groove, then it becomes something that you crave. You don’t need to become a yoga master or a marathon runner to develop an exercise routine. Even committing to twenty minutes five days a week of brisk walking with your dog, a game of frisbee with your kids, a hike in the woods, a bike ride, or any combination of fun activities that get your heart rate up can be incredibly impactful on your mental and physical health.

We often associate exercise with the outcome of weight loss, an exercise routine shouldn’t be implemented only for the purpose of losing weight or improving your physical appearance; think of it as a commitment to your mental health, to helping you deal with the world better, to being a better parent, partner, son or daughter, friend, and co-worker. If you lose weight, great. If not, the benefits of exercise are still significant and have been proven over and over and over again.

Make time for your friends and family

three female friends conversing at a dinner party

Sounds easy, right? Sure, you go to your daughter’s soccer games and take your son to trumpet lessons. And yes, you’ll meet up with friends for happy hour once a month or invite people over to watch the game, but what if you tried to transform these irregular and informal events into an intentional and ongoing commitment? Can you do family dinner five days a week? If not, how about family breakfast?

Here’s an immensely important tip: no matter who you’re spending quality time with, put away or turn off all devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions. Your kids might protest, especially if they’re teenagers, and your friends might at first be annoyed at your request, but over time the effect this will have on your relationships is immeasurable. Why is this self-care, you might ask? Because science says so. Being in front of a screen too much can damage your brain and can negatively impact your emotional health.

Learn a contemplative practice

woman meditating in the mountains

Prayer, meditation, yoga, self-reflection. The brilliant people at On Being have a fantastic visual they’ve published on how to think about contemplative practices, and it expands into physical activity like dance, walking, singing, and more. No matter what religious tradition you belong (or don’t belong) to, almost all include a contemplative practice of some sort. The Abrahamic traditions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–all stress the importance of prayer. Buddhist and Hindu traditions teach meditation and chanting. Prayer and meditation have been proven to improve emotional health, brain health, and general well being, and even just five or ten minutes a day can help relieve stress.

In addition to prayer and meditation, self-reflection is a type of contemplative practice that supports self-care and personal growth. Authentic Agility’s How Do You See the World? is a game that you can play alone to get to know yourself better and to work on self-acceptance. Taking time to ask yourself difficult questions can improve your day-to-day relationship with yourself, and it can also lead to revelations about yourself that may completely change your life for the better.

What’s your plan for self-care?

We’d love to hear it. Get in touch with us on Facebook and share your self-care routines!

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