“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
On Monday, I came across a co-worker that was literally shaking and complaining that she was nauseous. I offered to adjust the air and get some medicine for her, but that wasn’t the problem.
The young lady had not eaten in over two days.
When I asked her why, she took me through the journey of her 70-hour work week between two jobs, caring for her sick mother, and ensuring that her fiancé and step-children had all that they needed to go about their business. Clearly she wasn’t even on her priority list, let alone at the bottom of it.
Her story is not uncommon. Women are especially guilty of constantly sacrificing their bare minimum needs to ensure that their loved ones and careers stay on track. However, when the grind starts costing you your health, it’s time to reevaluate.
Now, there are some special circumstances where going without is, unfortunately, the only option. I would never want to trivialize one’s struggle to survive under particularly trying circumstances. To those I say: I see you, I admire you, and your hard work will be rewarded.
However, for the rest of us women that have internalized the false message that self-care martyrdom is the only way to get things done, I would like to offer you an alternative. It’s okay… no, it is IMPERATIVE that we care for ourselves first.
During the emergency protocol on an airplane, we are told that if the cabin loses air pressure and the oxygen masks come down, we must apply our masks first before assisting our companions, our children or a fellow passenger. It may seem selfish, but what good will come of you helping someone else if you yourself can’t breathe? If you pass out in the midst of helping them, you’ll both be in life-threatening danger. Rather, it makes more sense to ensure your safety so that you can assist another and both of you are able to survive.
So it goes with life. Attempting to pour into our families, friends and careers from an empty vessel is a disservice to everyone. Make sure that your cup is filled first-physically, emotionally and spiritually. By caring for yourself, you are better able to care for others wholeheartedly, free from resentment and needless fatigue.
As for my colleague? A quick trip to the store for some chicken noodle soup and a heart-to-heart got her back on track. What will it take for you?