May 20, 2016

Put on Your Oxygen Mask

Every time you fly, the flight attendant reminds you, "Put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you." And for good reason, if cabin pressure drops significantly you have a matter of seconds before you pass out. You can't help your kids if you're unconscious.

My therapist told me tonight that this is an oft quoted piece of advice for parents. And we all know that teaching is a lot like parenting. (Since I'm parenting and teaching the same age group right now all advice is doubly useful!) I am not a good teacher or parent when I'm stressed, tired, distracted or otherwise not 100% on. So I have to figure out what my oxygen mask is, and prioritize it. Things that make me a more functional human also make me more patient of others imperfections (and my own!). Not to mention much more fun to be around.

In January I made a new years resolution to actively engage in more of the hobbies that bring me joy or calm. I made a schedule and told Handle to remind me every day at 5 pm. On Mondays I would do the crossword, on Tuesdays I would play the ukulele, on Wednesdays I would read and on Thursdays I would color. I don't think I've ever successfully completed this routine, despite five months of reminders. Sometimes I feel bad for checking off tasks that I didn't complete, but my ever wise therapist reframed things for me - these are reminders of things I like in case I need them. Sometimes on a Monday I'm vegged in front of the TV and I appreciate the reminder to do a crossword while watching. Other times I'm in the middle of a great book and I read four days in a row without needing any reminders. This month blogging has been my oxygen mask and I haven't had time for much else.

I recognize my need for time alone after a long day of people constantly demanding my attention. I know that I need eight hours of sleep, more than that during allergy season. I know I like walking, hiking and sometimes even jogging but it's also okay that I'm not exercising while my immune system is waging the annual war. It's good to have options for ways to replenish my energy and it's okay for me to focus on a particular one for a stretch of time.

As my ever wise friends say:
You do you.
Practice radical self care.

Put on your oxygen mask people, you can't hold your breath until summer.

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