By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Welcome to "Mental Health, Monday" with a SoulShine twist. Today's topic...oxygen and self-kindness, DreamChasers. Oxygen is to your body what self-kindness is to your soul. What does that mean? Both are necessary for life to continue; they are not optional!
Have you ever stopped to think about WHY the flight attendants say to "put your mask on first before helping others"? Oxygen is necessary for survival. As your oxygen level drops, your ability to think clearly, focus, make decisions, and troubleshoot gets foggier and foggier. While helping others first seems the heroic path, that taking care of your own needs first is selfish, the fact of the matter is you are of no use to others in a flight emergency if you don't take care of yourself first.
I have been on many flights in my life, and I look forward longingly to many more in the future. I have fortunately never had to try out the "put your oxygen on first" drill. Thankfully, the oxygen masks aren't needed often on planes. This doesn't change the necessity of oxygen for our existence...or, for that matter, the same necessity for self-kindness.
Let’s make sure we are on the same page here. At SoulShine, we like to refer to self-kindness as it emcompasses the bigger picture of how you treat yourself, incorporating total wellness of the mind, body, and soul connection. Other similar words and phrases could be self-care, taking care of yourself, being nice to yourself, or anything along these lines. The basic idea is the same; doing things for yourself to take care of yourself. Just as we are all individuals, how we show self-kindness is individual; what works for one person will be different for someone else. The point is not WHAT you are doing but that you are doing it!
The unfortunate thing is that self-kindness often comes with a dose of guilt or feelings of selfishness. Thoughts of doing something for yourself BEFORE doing all the things for everyone else seem an impossible task. Because of this, self-kindness gets pushed to the back burner, to the “if there is time, then I will…” slot. And, let's be real, how often does this slot get filled? Rarely. Because there is always something to do for someone else.
DreamChasers, would you wait to breathe so everyone else has oxygen first? For life-sustaining needs, we can't rely on remembering or choosing. Instead, our bodies have reflexes built in to keep these processes going. Unfortunately, there is no reflex or physical signs telling us to do self-kindness!
Or, is there?
Let's explore this! Self-kindness is a way to recharge your batteries. It's a way to bring stress levels down. Self-kindness is having a positive mindset and practicing positive self-talk. It is finding joy, happiness and gratitude. Self-kindness is following your passion and purpose in the things you enjoy doing. The list goes on and on. Studies have shown that practicing these pieces of self-kindness decreases the negative effects of stress on your body, can boost your immunity, can decrease anxiety and depression, just to name a few.
If you have ever experienced the negative states of stress or anxiety or depression, you know there are physical signs that show up. While these states may not be directly a result of the lack of self-kindness, taking care of yourself through self-kindness is exactly what you need!
So, to answer the question posed earlier, are there physical signs of the lack of self-kindness? I would say absolutely! But, unlike the reflex to breathe, you have to consciously recognize that this is lacking and make the choice to incorporate this into your life. Don’t be fooled by the lack of reflex, DreamChaser, physical manifestations ARE the body’s way of communicating its needs to you!
Do your self-kindness first just like you are supposed to put your oxygen on first. Both are needed to survive but self-kindness is needed to thrive, to live your best life, and that’s what it’s all about! Not just to survive but to thrive. Explore what makes you feel refueled and recharged. Make time for it every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. This, DreamChasers, is the difference maker! Looking for a place to start adding self-kindness in your life? Check out these self-kindness for the mind, body, and soul ideas:
Let go of the guilt or feelings of selfishness when it comes to doing something for yourself. These do not serve you! To be your best, you need to feel your best. Practicing self-kindness everyday is key to this. Consider self-kindness with the same respect of oxygen, a necessity for life. Do your self-kindness first before helping others, and you will be on your path to your best life.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.