“Put on your own oxygen mask first, before you help others.”  So says the safety announcement as we sit on the plane, ready for take off.

Every time I hear this, I wonder: could I do it? In the panic of a potential plane crash, would I have the peace of mind to attend to myself first, when every instinct in my body is primed to put my 3 year old son above everyone and everything else? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect I’ll be the one holding my breath while securing his mask.

The analogy is a common one and apt: if we don’t care for ourselves first, we won’t be able to care for others. This concept of ‘self-care’ is one that women in particular seem to struggle with. We are mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, friends, employees, business owners, housekeepers, bookkeepers…often all in the one day. And we try to be all of that while looking presentable, eating well and carrying on our shoulders the weight of the feminist cause. Gosh…somebody pass me the oxygen mask.

I am very conscious of the need to take time out for myself, to exercise, to read for pleasure and do things for no one but me, but doing so without a layer of guilt does not come naturally to me. It probably doesn’t for you either. It’s so easy to check in on your email at 8.30pm, when kids are in bed and the kitchen is clean, answer a few emails and feel ‘on top of things’ before the next day begins. However, too often, what was supposed to be a quick ‘check in’ leaves you still sitting in front of the computer at 10.30pm, your good intentions of getting to the 6am gym session the next day have flown out the window. The next day you’re tired…not as productive during the work day as you could be…miss a few emails…plan to catch up at night…and so the cycle continues.

Our rational brains know this is not good for us, but the rational brain carries with it the burden of socialisation: somewhere along the way we have learned that a woman should be “all things to everyone” and we have accepted that as truth. In the process of trying to be this superhero, we sacrifice our health, our well being and ultimately ourselves.

It’s time to forget about being all things to everyone (news flash: you’re actually not as great at that as you think). Don’t wait until the plane is going down to re-wire your brain, start now with some baby steps: ignore email out of hours; take a 30 minute walk by yourself every day; don’t do that load of washing; say no to things that don’t fall into the category of what is ‘absolutely important’ to you. And if you aren’t sure what’s absolutely important, answering that question is a great place to start. Just make sure YOU are at the top of that list.

On Friday 9 September 2016, join us for breakfast at Macquarie Bank as we learn how to free up hours in your week that you can then to devote to ‘you’ time. Details here 

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