We’re all familiar with the drill.
‘In case of emergency, your oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head…”
There’s a reason airlines tell you to ensure your own oxygen mask is safely secured before you assist anyone else with theirs. Even if you’re travelling with a small child or otherwise incapacitated passenger who would require assistance, still the safety procedure instructions are the same:
Save yourself first.
In times of difficulty, be it low mood and sense of self-worth, injury or a more physical situation, there is nothing more important than taking the initiative to enlist in habits of self-care and self-love to ensure your bad day does not turn into a worse week, month or lifetime of unnecessary suffering.
While support and reassurance is vital and often hugely effective in relieving mental distress, sometimes the best thing we can do for others is simply to start taking care of ourselves. This of course includes reaching out and taking the steps needed to begin solving the problem, yet also covers the less obvious areas such as eating right, exercising, and implementing change for ourselves where we think is fit. The difference here being that the initiative to do so has come from you this time around, and not someone telling you what to do.
In times of need, stress, and dealing with difficult emotions, there is often nothing we (and Irish people in general) do better than to ignore our own basic needs.
Being kind to ourselves is just not something we have been brought up to do or think is alright. It’s seen as full of it, pigheaded, or even worse, and sometimes even in true Irish tight-lipped and harsh terseness: up yourself.
Not only is this self-deprecating and damaging to our own self-esteem in every imaginable way, but it also in it’s essence as a negative behaviour serves absolutely nobody as a belief or assertion.
In dealing with mental and emotional issues, though support from others is required and encouraged to aid with recovery, and is often some of the most successful therapy available, there is a certain strength and independence that can only be obtained by taking the reigns and personally placing your own safety mask securely over your own nose and mouth; whether that mask be in the form of a friend to talk to, a notebook, a song, doctor, or some other outlet.
In my own experience, doing for myself what I had for so long relied on others to do for me gave me a sense of inner strength and a liberation stronger than any I’ve felt before.
While all support, love, and kindness is essential and hugely appreciated when it is given, the nature of many personal difficulties and struggles lies in a lack of control and ability to break out of negative thought cycles and habits – something which is unique to each individual, and so even more difficult for others to understand and help with in times of need.
Because turbulence is a pretty much inevitable aspect of navigating the skies today, and you can be pretty much guaranteed to hit areas of both low and high pressure as you make your way through life to any new place. What may sound like a basic routine of self-care for some is for others an unexpected and difficult mountain of old and damaging habits which must be scaled in order to obtain the same results. In finally realising one’s own ability to deal with and cope with one’s own emotions, thoughts and difficulties, there is a particular freedom and sense of individuality which allows us to finally progress forwards, and begin to pave a way for ourselves instead of crawling sheepishly in the trail of those we’ve allowed go ahead of us.
While we may all be in the same plane, and as such ultimately powerless to a system failure or crash should it occur, the least we can do is protect ourselves as soon as possible from further harm, and put our own oxygen masks on first.