If you’ve ever flown, you’ve seen the flight attendant do the demo with the oxygen mask that will drop in case of a change in cabin pressure. And their instructions always include the instructions to put your own mask on before assisting others. I thought about that and how my instinct would probably be to help my children, first, before myself. But really? If I do that, and I don’t help myself first, how can I possibly help others?
I think those instructions are important ones to remember for everyone in our day-t0-day life. I am reading more and more of my classmates’ blogs about how stressed out they are and how sleep-deprived and how overwhelmed, and I really, really want nothing more than to say, “Hey, don’t worry! Hang in there! It will all get better. Your stress will go away!” But realistically, stress doesn’t go away. It changes, depending on where you are in your life.
The stress and workload of university can definitely seem overwhelming and insane. But when you’re older *ahem, not THAT old* you learn that even though the school work will eventually ease off, you will still have stressors that you need to deal with. Jobs, careers, more classes, family, changes, loss of loved ones, financial issues, volunteer work, relationships. . . the list of possible stressors goes on.
So the best advice I would give, if I were asked, would be “Hey, don’t worry. You will learn to cope! But you need to take care of yourself, to do that.”
We often hear people say things like, “I would love to get to the gym/go for a walk/have a night out/go to a movie but I just don’t have time!!” We need to make time. We need to find time to put our own oxygen masks on to save ourselves, or we have nothing to give to everyone and everything else.
A fine example of this, I think, is my friend Rodney. Rodney is a principal of an elementary school in the North East School Division. He works hard. He is a dedicated professional and a family man. He and his family are extremely busy. Stress could easy consume him, but Rodney has a passion. He is the drummer for a band called Eve ‘n Adams. I’ve seen these guys play and they’re awesome!
I have other professional friends who run marathons, do volunteer work, cook, read, knit, and travel. Enjoyable things that are just for them and help them relax. I was glad to see one of my classmates doing a project on meditation. As weird as it felt for her the first time she tried it, I hope she keeps it up. Any strategy we can find to help us cope and relax and take care of ourselves is a good strategy.
Remember to put your own oxygen masks on first, my friends. It’s not always easy or instinctive but it’s important. And worth a reminder, once in a while.