I was told by another mom while Emma was in the eating disorder partial hospitalization program a great example of the meaning behind the importance of self-care that will be forever engraved in my mind. She said.... "life as a care taker is like a flight attendant's safety instructions when you board a plane. You know, those instructions that everyone ignores...too busy with the other details of life...checking emails, sending texts, checking in on social media...etc. etc. etc. In case of an emergency and the oxygen masks fall the attendant tells you that if you're traveling with a child to put your mask on first before you put it on your child."
WAIT...WHAT?!? This goes against everything within our nature not to take care of our child first or anyone first for that matter...but the consequence on a plane is obvious. If you're passed out from no oxygen, you can't take care of your child....you both die. Self care is not selfish...it's a necessity.
Whether you're a caregiver, receiver of care, or just a human interacting with other humans...self-care applies to everyone. No matter what your life's journey looks like. It has been a LONG time that I personally have struggled with the concept of self-care. Yes, I'm learning to practice what I preach for self-care. It's easier said than done. I'm a work in process, but I'm proof if I can implement this concept anyone can. Emma's monthly self-care journey subscription boxes in her store are a great way to start. Little examples of what we've found to be helpful...hopefully we can help you too.
Fight or Flight
Why has self-care become such hard concept for us to adapt into our daily lives, and instead we seem to live fearfully and over-stressed? It's important to understand how your body and brain work together, and understanding helps make the adjustments in your life that best fits you. One of the main reasons self-care seems to be put on the back burner of life is because we live with our brains in fight or flight mode.
Your body's fight or flight response is your body's response to threat or danger. During this reaction certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released, speeding your heart rate, slowing digestion, constricting blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other autonomic nervous functions. This gives the body a burst of energy and strength. Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, like running from a saber-tooth tiger. It’s now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, like in traffic, during a stressful day at work, or dealing with chronic pain and illness. When the perceived threat is gone, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response, but in our times of chronic stress, this often doesn’t happen enough, causing damage to the body. We are so busy trying to "fix and solve" problems, situations, and other humans that we get stuck in a doing-mode. Our minds and bodies are in a constant fight or flight response.
So how to we switch this off...we must try to switch from a doing-mode to a being mode. We must be present, be mindful. You will continue to have difficult days....a lot of them. Practicing self-care allows us to practice self-compassion. Be compassionate with yourself, but be aware of your responses and it's effects on your complete self. Don't label your emotions as good or bad....accept them, all of them. Cry when you need to, laugh when you can, and love often.
Welcome to my daughter Emma's medical journey blog. Read updates on Emma and helpful tips for researching and coping with a child with an unspecified, rare genetic disease living in chronic pain. Click on the ABOUT tab to see how her journey started.