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“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you
to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
– Eleanor Brown

Why is self-care so important when you are stressed?
If you have ever been on an airplane, you will probably remember that one of the first things you learn from the flight attendants before the plane takes off is that if the cabin pressure fails in the airplane, you must put your own oxygen mask on before you help others with theirs. Why is this? The answer is pretty simple. You must save your own life before you are able to save others. So why do the flight attendants need to tell the passengers this? Because it is our instinct to help others that we care about before helping ourselves.

Well, this same rule applies to stressful periods in your life. During these times, we often have family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who have needs, and it is our instinct to want to help them. However, it is important to remember that when life becomes challenging, if you are not taking care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others.

How do I select a self-care activity?
Self-care looks different for everyone. Since the whole point of self-care is to do something that make you feel good, it is important that you find activities that have that desired effect. For some, taking a yoga class would be a perfect self-care activity because yoga is not only good for the body but also the mind. However, if you do not like yoga you might benefit more from a walk on the beach, time to yourself to read a book, or a movie out with friends. When selecting a self-care activity, focus on what you love and what you believe will recharge you.

How often should I include self-care activities in my life?
The answer to this depends on how stressful or challenging your life is. When things are going good, people tend to automatically enjoy more self-care activities. It is when times are tough, that people tend to forget to take care of themselves. So reflect on your life right now. Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed? If so, you may need to increase your self-care activities. If you are feeling relaxed and stress free, this would be an excellent time to pay attention to the fun and relaxing things you are doing and make a mental note. Then the next time you are stressed, incorporate these activities into your day.

What if I forget?
I suggest scheduling self-care activities on your calendar. I must admit, this does not always come naturally to me. Like anyone else I have gone through stressful periods in my life, and sometimes I have forgotten to take time to care for myself. But with experience, practice, and support from my family and friends, I have learned to prioritize self-care activities.