I have long been a proponent of self-care. I flew as an international flight attendant for over twenty-three years. Every time I went to work, I heard the announcement we all hear when flying. “In the event of an emergency, put your mask on first.” It took me a while to let that sink in and believe in its efficacy. If you’re a frequent traveler like me, you’ve heard it too. Here are a few ways to make it effective in your life.

Research has proven that passengers have just seconds to put their masks on before hypoxia symptoms begin. Those symptoms include feeling weak and disoriented. Without putting on that mask first, a person will lose the ability to recognize faces and shapes and immediately pass out. Hence the critical reminder to put your mask on first before attempting to help others. A person can have less than 15 seconds of useful consciousness during an aircraft decompression. As a flight crew, it’s the first thing we are taught to do in an emergency.

In life, we wear many hats. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, blogger, and many more. However, I can be none of those things or good at any of those things if I don’t take care of myself. Therefore, self-care should be an essential part of everyone’s routine. We must understand that self-care is not an indulgence, and it is not selfishness. It is an understanding of your priorities and knowing that you cannot be the best for those around you if you are not at your best self.

Reminding yourself to put your mask on first is part of maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. Practicing self-care does not mean choosing yourself over others. It means you are mindful of your needs so you can be more present for others. A healthy respect for self-care helps to reduce and even eliminate anxiety, depression, and reduce stress,

For me, traveling is one of the best forms of self-care. Travel allows me to appreciate better the things I have at home. Like knowing to reach for my mask first before helping others, travel forces me to think on my toes. When traveling, everything is new and very often does not go as planned. As in my everyday life, I am better at handling the unexpected because I have a healthy respect for self-care, and I’ve learned to put my mask on first.

Travel is the ultimate way to gain a new perspective. It’s not uncommon to start living on autopilot. Work, dinner, TV, bed, and the routine are repeated daily without much difference. If this sounds like you, then now is the time to buy that ticket and travel. Don’t forget to listen to the safety announcement and “Put your mask on first!”

Do you practice self-care? Have you learned to put your mask on first? I’d like to know.