How often do you nurture yourself?

Today is November 16 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you nurture yourself?” People who navigate the chaos place a priority on nurturing themselves. It may seem a bit selfish at times but putting in the daily grind required to translate one dream after another into reality demands a strong sense of self physically, mentally, and spiritually.

As Harvard Business School historian Nancy F. Koehn wrote “We forget that the single most important thing we must do to walk a worthy and higher path is to take good care of ourselves. If we want to serve, and love others, and have a powerful impact we must love and nurture ourselves.”

As Lisa Firestone wrote in "The Unselfish Art of Prioritizing Yourself" published on August 17, 2017 in Psychology Today “Socrates gave two injunctions: Care for oneself and know oneself. He and other ancient ethicists understood that caring for ourselves is to exhibit an attitude not only toward ourselves, but also toward others and the world, to attend to our own thoughts and attitudes in self-reflection and meditation, and to engage in ascetic practices aimed at realizing an ideal state of being. Maintaining a certain regard for ourselves and engaging in self-compassion and self-care are actually fundamental to creating a good life for ourselves and the people who matter most to us.”

A common illustration of where this need for self-nurturing comes into play is during the safety instructions issued prior to an airplane’s takeoff. The most common safety instruction is “In case of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks above your seat will deploy, please place the mask first and then assist your child or other passengers.” If you have ever been on an airplane before you more than likely heard this instruction from the flight attendant; that is, if you were paying attention.

For parents aboard the plane who hear this message for the first time a natural inclination is to think such instructions are counter-intuitive to being a parent. Surely any parent would place the mask over their child first. But doing so could have disastrous consequences.

In a commercial passenger flight, the oxygen masks generally contain enough oxygen for approximately 12 minutes. After that, everyone on board will go unconscious due to Hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). If the flight is at an altitude above 20,000 ft. one can get unconscious within 20 to 60 seconds. This is the main reason flight attendants always advise you to put the oxygen masks first and then assist your children or other passengers – in case of an emergency.

If, however, you try to put the oxygen mask on a child or someone else first, Hypoxia may prevent you from having enough time to put your mask on. Subsequently, you run the risk of your death as well as the other person you were trying to help. A depressurized airplane cabin triggers hypoxia-like symptoms that leave people weak, disoriented, and unable to help themselves. Passengers have just seconds to put on their oxygen masks before oxygen-saturation levels drop to a perilous point.

By helping others first, or ignoring the mask altogether, a person will begin to lose his or her ability to recognize faces and shapes, and eventually pass out. Hence, the flight-safety demo that reminds passengers over and over to take care of their own mask right away.

Navigating the chaos and translating one dream after another into reality is a lot like flying in an airplane. You are surrounded by people both familiar and unfamiliar and in a time of crisis you may want to help those around you. During such times recall the flight attendant’s instructions and nurture yourself first. Doing so can give you the oxygen, strength, and ability to help others. How often do you nurture yourself?