Breaking Down Self-Care

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Have you ever listened to the flight attendant right before takeoff talk about what you need to be aware of just in case things don’t go as planned during your flight?  You may have heard the attendant ask you to notice the emergency exits and how accessible it is from where you’re sitting.  They may have mentioned the life-craft available to you in case you need to swim for your life.  I’m sure you recall them point out that if the pressure changes in the cabin an oxygen mask may appear and you should put your mask on before you put it on anyone else.  Do you recall hearing this warning before?

If you’ve heard this before, it’s easy to interpret the part of being sure to put our mask on first as an example of how we should be taking care of our urgent needs before so we are at our best to help someone else.  When we care of others first we may put our needs in the back burner for a bit. Imagine if we do pass out before we get to put our mask on?! This is especially a good analogy for people that support and care for others.   And while this is true that self-care is considering the care of our self so that we may care for others at our best, at the very core of self-care there is one major ingredient: Self-awareness.

What are we becoming more aware of? Our needs.  How many times this week have you felt a tightness, stretched thin, baring extra weight, metaphorically speaking? When that’s come up, how many times have you literally stopped to ask yourself what you are needing at that time?

On an airline flight, the attendant is providing awareness in case something like a crash occurs.  Similarly, self-care is a practice to ensure we manage our internal world from crashing and experiencing burnout.  

Today, I’ll share just a couple of things to keep in mind to bring awareness of our internal world and avoid burnout. By definition, burnout is physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.  While our bodies can keep pushing through, a threshold can appear and that threshold is burnout.

Where are you on this timeline? 

At Ease  —>  Overstimulated  —> Overwhelmed —>  Burnout

If you find yourself in the overwhelmed state, what are some ways you can support finding ease in who you’re being?

Self-care can be the practice of our awareness to how we support ourselves to avoid burnout or a crash.  Just as the airlines have a plan in case a crash happens, what ways do you give care to yourself when we move from ease to overstimulated and overwhelmed? Take a moment to pause and consider how you’re breathing and what is our body indicating a need of yours is at this time.  Ultimately the care and awareness of yo supports the care and awareness of others.

To learn more and enroll in the upcoming Wellness by Design Pilot Program that’s beginning January 2019, email Virginia Jimenez, at  

(Credit: Parts of this post was inspired by C4SC Wellness Director, Christina Pearce)

Tuning Into Self