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Home > The Vapour Blog > The Oxygen Mask: Self Care for the Holidays

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The Oxygen Mask: Self Care for the Holidays
By Ashleigh Beyer, Vapour BlogGirl

“Take care of yourself before attempting to take care of others.”

“You are the person who teaches everybody else in the world how to treat you.” - Elena Brower

Seven years ago, when I first started teaching yoga full time, I was constantly exhausted but I didn’t know how to “fix it.” I sensed I needed more ‘alone time’, but I lived in a tiny apartment with my best friend and my boyfriend who worked from home. I decided to seek guidance. When I elaborated to my therapist Jen on the details of my fatigue, she nodded knowingly. “Of course you’re tired,” she said, “you’re a healer now. As healers, we have to live the same rule we do when we’re on airplanes: ‘Always put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.’” Ah-ha!

In my opinion, this theory is not just prevalent to healers, but to everyone. The jist is: take good care of yourself before attempting to take care of others. Thanks to many years of working with Jen, I am a practitioner and an advocate, of Self-Care.

Dr. Christine Meinecke defines Self-Care as “...choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy, getting quality sleep, practicing yoga, meditation or relaxation, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy.”

In Cheryl Richardson’s 2009 book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, Richardson says to “become aware of how and why you feel deprived,” as a first step to practicing “Extreme Self-Care.” Richardson asks, “When do you feel over-whelmed, frustrated, burdened or resentful?” She says these are the moments to ask, “Where do I feel deprived?” It’s best to be specific with your answers. So rather than just saying, “I feel deprived of alone time,” say, “I feel deprived of quiet alone time where I can meditate, journal, or watch a favorite movie.”

Richardson also highlights routine as a very important part of self-care, “When you go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday, you support your body’s adrenal system by keeping your hormones stable and balanced.” One of the ways I addressed my lack of alone time was to wake up earlier. In that tiny apartment, when everyone else was still asleep, I could wake up early and meditate, plan my classes or read something inspirational. Now I’m a die-hard morning person. I wake up early to take good care of myself and I build energy reserves to help others take care of themselves.

The holidays are a challenging time to form new practices and that’s exactly what makes them powerful time to do just that.

At a recent training, the great Restorative Yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater gave me an assignment, which I’d like to pass on to you:

“Make a list of 3 things that disturb your ease and 3 things that restore your ease.”

During this holiday season, give yourself the gift of moving in the direction of ease: try not to overbook, forgo the extra glass of wine or say no to rushing and take a nap instead. If you’re well taken care of, trust me, you will be more present for your loved ones and therefore more able to experience the point of the season: joy. I wish you a joyful and easy season.

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On 12/29/2013 Ashleigh wrote:

*put :)


On 12/29/2013 Ashleigh wrote:

That's a wonderful idea Daphne! I hope your aunt enjoys the book and is able to out some of its ideas into practice.


On 12/19/2013 daphne wrote:

I loved your oxygen mask analogy. I'm going to purchase The Art of Self care for my aunt who is a caregiver for my grandmother. Thanks

On 12/10/2013 Ashleigh wrote:

You are so welcome Alana.
Thanks for reading!


On 12/9/2013 Alana wrote:

Love this ! A Perfect inspiration for my day today. Thank you, Ashleigh!

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