Especially at times like this, the “Oxygen Mask” theory is imperative.

When the plane is flying smoothly (or there isn’t a pandemic going around that changes everything in your life), you don’t have to act in emergency mode. But what happens when we get some turbulence in life?

We have to remember to put our own oxygen masks on FIRST. If we’re not breathing, how are we going to be able to help our children breathe?

And right now, “breathing” means making sure you’re taking care of YOU — your mental health — first.

“But my kids come first!” you’ll say.

ABSOLUTELY. Without a doubt. I’m a single mom. I get it.

But I also know from experience that if I’M not whole and healthy and putting my oxygen mask on first, I’m not giving my daughter the best of me.

You may think it sounds selfish, to put yourself first. But we’re not talking about going on a shopping spree for yourself and denying your kids the things they want and need just to make yourself happy.

We’re talking about your mental health. Your ability to be the best you can be…FOR THEM. So, it’s the opposite of selfish.

Prioritize your mental health: FOR YOUR KIDS

I need to take some time daily to make sure I’m taking care of my mental wellbeing, whatever it may be that day. Usually that’s hard to remember to do, since I’m being pulled in twenty-five different directions: Parenting, teaching, work, quality time, meals, house maintenance, etc. There’s no time for my seemingly superficial needs.

But I’ve learned (through struggle) that I have to make sure I do what I need to do to regroup, put my oxygen mask on, and breathe — so that I can help my daughter put her oxygen mask on and breathe.

When my mental wellness is taken care of, I can more easily notice that my 9-year-old daughter is being crabby because she has her own mental wellbeing that needs tending to — and I can find ways to do that, without being at the end of my rope. I can be a better parent.

So the reading, Jeep drives by the water when my daughter is with her dad, creative projects, repainting the living room, talking to friends, online shopping…that’s all necessary. Because it balances my mental wellness and gets me back to me, instead of constantly scrambling to keep things together in a different world.

For you, it may be other things entirely. It may include talking to a professional — and it absolutely should, if that’s what will take care of your mental health. It takes a strong person to get help to meet their needs, and to realize you don’t need to sacrifice yourself and your wellbeing.

Because it’s a priority. Because you’re WORTH it.

Life during a pandemic

I’ve been working from home with Hay There Social Media for almost a decade, incorporating the work + life integration like second nature now…but this is a whole new ballgame. It’s hard. Our daily routines may have changed a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, or they may not have changed much at all. Either way, the world we live in has changed.

There’s a bit of turbulence right now — so it’s time to put our (mental health) oxygen masks on. First.

Then we can help our kids put on their oxygen masks, and we can all breathe…and ride out the storm together.

What do YOU do to prioritize your mental wellness?

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