Wellness Begins with Self-Care

By Steven Dakai

If you have ever flown, you have heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help another human being with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. The message is that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, you can’t do it for other human beings.

The Inupiat of Alaska have identified 12 values that drive their lives and culture. One that could be added is being selfish. Selfish not in the negative way, but selfish in the positive way. Taking care of yourself first so you can contribute and take care of other human beings. 

It’s easy to keep putting self-care off, until you get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the human beings who count on you. Only then do you realize you haven’t been getting the oxygen, nutrients, and rest you need to sustain yourself and taking care of yourself is neither selfish nor self-serving. It’s just plain practical.

Many human beings feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their responsibilities or other human beings. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to other human being’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your personal needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allow you to feel more in touch with the world around you. 

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish. There is a feeling of being pressured to make the most of your time each day, and the activities that sustain and renew you are the first to be sacrificed when you are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. When this happens, it is important to utilize introspection and remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for other human beings. 

Making time to nurture your spirit will require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life. This also means having to place the focus on taking care of you before taking care of other human beings. Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to another human beings, to say yes to yourself.

Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off. The oxygen you need is all around you, sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe. Everything happens for a reason. Focus on one thing at a time.  You can have it all but not all at once. You can plan ahead but your plan will definitely change when the time comes. Trust your instincts. It’s ok to be unsure about your purpose in life. Don’t try too hard with people. Take a leap of faith in yourself. Believe in yourself. See life as a progressive journey and you’ll most certainly achieve anything you set your mind to.  

You are very much like drops of water in the wide expanse of the ocean. Your worth comes from your uniqueness as well as your role as an integral part of something larger than yourself.

Steven Dakai is an Author, Storyteller, Change Maker, Inspirational Writer, and Trainer/Life Enrichment Consultant. Steven has been in the healing, wellness, discovery, recovery, and addiction treatment field for over 25 years and worked in private, public and Tribal sectors. Steven’s writings and philosophy is a body-mind-spirit enrichment approach, emphasizing the importance of using interconnectedness, mindfulness, guided imagery, breath work and spiritual practice in association with a trauma informed care approach to personal wellness, resiliency, and healing.

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