Saturday, May 8, 2010

Because you're worth it!

If you've ever flown you probably have listened to the flight attendant's safety drill. They talk about how in the event of cabin depressurization a parent needs to put their oxygen mask on first and then put their child's mask on. Obviously, if we put our child's mask on first we run the risk of passing out from lack of oxygen ourselves. Isn't this a good metaphor for motherhood?

Good metaphor or not, it typically isn't easy for a mom to put herself first. I hear it all the time. Who has time to exercise? I'm too busy with ______________ (fill in your list here). I don't mean to single out women, but generally speaking we do tend to put ourselves at the very end of our list of priorities. Yes, women tend to be more nurturing and giving, but usually not to themselves. So, in honor of Mother's Day let's consider ourselves for just a moment.

Constantly putting yourself last is an unhealthy habit that can be difficult to break, especially if you might end up feeling a little selfish and guilty about taking time out for you. As a result, we may end up feeling stressed out, anxious, irritable and maybe even a little depressed. The result? Sort of like an empty cup, with not much left to give. Ultimately, this isn't healthy for us, or for the ones we care for.

What if we change our perspective and view making time for ourselves as important as taking care of others? This mindset is a win/win! We fill up our cup and when it is full we have more to give. This allows us to be more patient and loving caregivers. If you're not convinced yet I took these points straight from a paper on the mental health benefits of physical activity published by Dr. Daniel Landers, a leading authority on exercise and mental health.

Physical activity:
  • Reduces anxiety and depression.
  • Increases positive self-esteem.
  • Increases restful sleep.
  • Improves ability to respond to stress.
These are just a few of the health benefits associated with increased physical activity. Don't put yourself last on your list. It's okay to put your oxygen mask on first.

Happy Mother's Day.

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