Put your OWN Oxygen Mask On First!
What would you do if someone threatened your child or a member of your family? You would fight tooth and nail to save them or support them in some way. You would be there to help them in their recovery if they were hurt.
What do you do for YOURSELF? When do you stop to take care of you, and fight tooth and nail to save yourself?
We often get caught up in taking care of those around us. We are last on our list. But you can stop that cycle. You don’t need to invest in a personal chef, masseuse or masseur, or chauffeur, or personal trainer, although any of those would be nice! But there are significant, free or inexpensive ways you can pamper yourself every day. They may seem small, but they are easily applied and can easily become healthy habits.
- Get some Sunshine!
This is a balance – too much unprotected sun exposure, as we know, can lead to increases in some types of skin cancer. But recent studies suggest a lot of people are actually exhibiting signs of Vitamin D deficiency. Our bodies make Vitamin D with exposure to the sun. Sun exposure (or lack thereof) also impacts our mental health. With a daily dose of protected sunshine, you can lift your mood and get your Vitamin D.
2. Hug your loved ones just for the health of it!!
Tell a loved one that you LOVE them! When our kids were little, my husband and I would sing Charlotte Diamond’s song, “4 Hugs a Day” to them and give big hugs (with their permission!). Showing affection and expressing love and happiness to others can positively impact not only our mental well-being, but recent research suggests that it actually boosts our immune system as well. An apple a day and a HUG a day, may keep the doctor away. And both parties – hugger and huggee will benefit. This is a great way to keep connected to our children and partners while we care for older adults – who could also use a hug or too! This one is a big bang for your buck!
3. Write Your SELF into your calendar, FIRST!
If your schedule gets filled up and at the end of the day you are scrambling to fit in that workout or time to prepare a decent meal, then it is possible you forgot who is NUMBER ONE. That’s you. In order to be of maximum service to others, you need to prioritize your self. If someone calls and asks for a time when you are scheduled for YOU, then – you are not free. Guard your time. For me, I have to put it in my phone, and it took me a while to feel great about saying, “NO”. But I found my free time expanded when I started prioritizing myself.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Current research supports several mindfulness practices such as Meditation, Yoga and Progressive Relaxation.
As an educator, I REALLY like Mindful Schools! I have taken some of these courses and know many other educators who have as well. Very good site! https://www.mindfulschools.org
Get it on your PHONE!
There are a number of digital apps that you can get free or at very low cost that can alert you to check in with your mind and body so that you stay tuned to your self in a deeper manner. In your digital device app store, check out: Calm, 7-minute Chi – Meditate & Move, Headspace: Meditation and Yoga Studio: Mind & Body.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or Tapping
(Shameless Promotion Alert!) There are a lot of folks out there who provide Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), however, one of my favorites, is, of course, my husband, Brad Yates. (http://www.TapWithBrad.com). With over 700 free videos online, Brad combines his skills in EFT and Hypnosis with compassion, authenticity and a fantastic sense of humor. Check it out!
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindful.org is a great place to start. This site has a lot of resources and information. There is a ton of information out there, and some of it looks pretty heavy and intimidating, but this site is very user friendly. There is also great resources for meditation here, as well.
As an educator, I REALLY like Mindful Schools! I have taken some of these courses and know many other educators who have as well. Very good site! https://www.mindfulschools.org/
5. Gratitude and Journaling
Martin Seligman, M.D., the father of Positive Psychology points to gratitude as a powerful medicine. Research demonstrates that employing daily gratitude exercise every day can reduce stress and increase happiness. At the end of every day, list 3 things that went well that day, and WHY they went well. It can be that simple and it can become a daily habit. Journaling in and of itself is a proven method for releasing stress and promoting self-reflection. But, integrating the gratitude exercise can boost your sense of joy and happiness.
I’ve been journaling for a very long time. It’s looked different in various stages of my life, but always been a benefit to peace of mind. I write every morning for a minimum of 5 minutes and it is the last thing I do before I go to bed.
Every morning. Every night.
At one point in my life, journaling was a very spiritual practice and I wrote letters to God as my form of prayer. At times journaling has been a “Dear Diary” sort of recording of events. However I’ve used the practice, it’s been a way to get thoughts and ideas out of my head, a means of sorting through events, a method of finding clarity. There really isn’t a “wrong” way to journal, and I love that! I like pen and paper, but for those with physical challenges with pen and paper, a voice recorded journal can serve the same purpose. Drawing is also a great way to get out of your head and find clarity. Check out some of these articles on journaling:
6. Find your Tribe!
When engulfed in work, parenting and taking care of parents, Sandwich Generation folks can easily feel isolated even though they are with people ALL. THE. TIME. Finding others who know the flavor of your unique stress is important. Find your tribe. You may find this online in a Facebook Group or another sort of online group. Your surrounding community may have free support groups. Places of worship often have groups for members, or you can suggest forming a group. The point is, while every journey inside the Sandwich Generation is different and unique, connecting with others with similar challenges and opportunities allows for rejuvenation and respite that is whole-hearted and powerful. Find your Tribe.