PUTTING ON MY OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST

Time flies when you’re… in a pandemic? Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right, and yet I find myself amazed that we’ve just entered February of 2021. One year ago things were just starting to get strange. Little did we know what level of strange they would reach. But, I digress. You all know this — you’ve been through the same crazy year.

What I actually want to talk about today is self care. Specifically, emotional self care. Had you asked me about this last year, I don’t think I would have had an answer for you. Self care, yes, of course! Take a vacation, go to the spa, have a girls’ night out, quit work at 6:00pm, not 8:00pm like I usually do. Self care wasn’t a new concept, but what I didn’t realize was that there are different types of care that I, myself, need. And one of them turned out to be a break for my emotions. 

I realized something was wrong mid-summer. My design business had taken a hit from Covid (not surprisingly since I do design and marketing for small businesses which were all affected). With that slow down, I had decided to finally give this endeavor, The Giving Back Society, the attention that it deserved.  With the best of intentions I announced a new program I was building and launched ads to share this news with the world! Yay, right? 

Well, not quite. I then proceeded to fall flat on my emotional face. I don’t know how else to describe it. I just hit a wall. And I didn’t understand it. What’s going on? Why am I not able to work long days anymore? Why can’t I motivate to start recording and creating my tutorial videos? Why do I just want to zone out and scroll through Pinterest all day? 

Launching my new program felt too heavy and I just wasn’t ready to take it on. I tried, I really did. But, I was emotionally exhausted. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Nor did I know what to do to fix it. In fact, I can’t even say that it’s “fixed” today. It’s more that I’m learning to spot the signs and take the steps necessary to recharge. 

It started with pulling back on my commitments. Fewer zoom meetings, more boundaries on volunteer work. Scheduled time to catch up with friends instead of calls that derailed me for the rest of the day. And, I think most importantly, permission to “putter”. I’m not sure if that’s a universal term or just a “Stevenson-ism”, but puttering was big in my family, especially with my Dad. He would putter around the garage doing projects or repairs or sometimes just organizing the shelves. It didn’t seem to matter what he was doing, but it was never on a deadline and it always made him happy. This was something that I needed to get back to. I had to give myself permission to dream, to play and to putter the afternoon away if that’s what my mind needed me to do. And it helped immensely. 

Without realizing it, this was my emotional self care. I rewatched favorite movies and spent more time snuggling with my cats. My husband and I played card games and he understood that some days I just wanted to be near him, but doing my own thing. I started designing our dream home and have detailed plans on how to go vertical this year in my small garden in order to fit in more plants.

Long story short, over time I started to feel like myself again. I started to not only dream, but take action. And I started to build out my program. It took longer than it would have taken two years ago, but I’ve been prioritizing my own self care better throughout the process. I truly had to learn this past year how to put on my own oxygen mask first. 

Self care isn’t just about yoga, healthy eating and sleep. It’s also about our emotional health. And if we want to be able to give to others and support those causes we care about, then we have to take care of ourselves. In fact, we owe it to others to take care of ourselves, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to show up at all, or we’ll show up later than we’d like to, as in my case. 

So, with that, I’m sitting here on a snowy New England day and writing a blog post. Is it anything newsworthy? No. But, it comes from the heart and I share my experience in the hopes that it gives others the permission to “putter” as well. Be well, take care and when you’re ready, let’s continue to give back.  

Putting on my own oxygen mask first

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