The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires U.S. air carriers and commercial airlines to give passengers a briefing on airline safety, often requiring the airline attendants to encourage adults traveling with small children to do their own oxygen masks before helping their child put theirs on in an emergency, according to the FAA website.
It is easy to assume that most people understand the logic behind the FAA’s protocol –– an individual cannot help someone put on their oxygen mask if they are also struggling to breathe.
Practicing self-care invokes the same logic: taking care of oneself mentally, physically and spiritually before attempting to help someone else. Through channeling the inevitable stressors of life in an intentional and healthy way, individuals can overcome hindrances that would otherwise be detrimental to their relationships and overall well-being.
Dr. Sherry Pollard, professor of marriage and family therapy and assistant director of the Counseling Center, has practiced self-care and continues to teach others its foundational elements.
“The basics of self-care are about nutrition and water and getting air and being outside with the sunshine and exercise,” Pollard said. “If you’re mentally tired, then you need to do something physical to counter balance that.”
Kim Baker-Abrams, associate professor of social work, believes self-care prevents burnout in an academic setting and serves a spiritual role in an era where busyness can be glorified.
“If you look at Jesus’ ministry, there are tons of times where he just went off and meditated or prayed,” Baker-Abrams said. “If the creator of the universe needs some alone time, then how much more do we need it? It isn’t something we should be proud of— being busy all the time.”
According to senior Brooke Tucker, self-care is rooted in self-discipline and consistency, contrary to the misconception that it is synonymous with self-indulgence.
“It’s just really creating consistency in my life,” Tucker said. “I feel a lot more confident because I know I am in control of this day. I will choose the things I will be a part of and will not be a part of.”
Tucker, Baker-Abrams and Pollard each echoed the significant role that boundaries in maintaining relationships and establishing consistent positive self-care habits.
“(Students) may be taking 21 hours of class and think they don’t have time,” Pollard said. “Honestly, they don’t have enough time not to do something.”
Although self-care is important for all, there is no generic self-care regimen because everyone processes stress differently, according to Baker-Abrams.
“For one person, it might be creativity. They need to be able to draw or paint or make something,” Baker-Abrams said. “For someone else, it might need to be more physical…Do something that’s beneficial that restores you.”