Self-Care: Put on Your Oxygen Mask First Before Assisting Others


A new year can be a new start. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that every year can be full of new surprises. What is a better way of starting 2021 than by taking care of ourselves? Self-care is a term that is suddenly popping up everywhere. But how do you do that, and why is it so important? Self-care is like the oxygen mask we need to put on ourselves before we can be of help to others. Check whether you are already taking good care of yourself and whether you can step it up. 

Practicing self-care is easier said than done. During vacations and on weekends, we often know this fact and make the time to take care of ourselves. But when obligations and responsibilities increase, self-care may be removed from our to-do list. We are busy with many activities; demanding jobs, a household to take care of, even distracted by technology and media. Exercising, reading, cooking, meeting with friends, or family are no longer priorities. 

Turbulent Times

Over the last year, it became increasingly clear how important it is to take good care of ourselves, especially in stressful and turbulent times. Practicing self-care helps to prevent us from getting sick, burned out, or agitated and stressed. Moreover, it influences our overall functioning. Without self-care we cannot properly do all of our other important daily tasks. Everything starts with relaxation and taking care of yourself. Simply listening to your needs and listening to your body can have outstanding positive results, such as reducing stress, improving relationships, and increasing self-esteem. 

Time Limits

Practice makes perfect – especially if it might be difficult to make time for self-care. It is easier to be successful by maintaining a self-care routine that is easy to follow, even if it is only a few minutes a day. Try different things and change the things that do not work for you. If necessary, write down what works. No one else knows how to take perfect care of you, so do things that work for you. 

Weekly Self-Care Checklist

Spending time and attention on yourself affects everything important to us: relationships, family life, work, emotions, health, and mental health – all good reasons to make self-care a structural part of your life. Use the checklist below as an example to see if you are taking care of yourself and which areas of your life might need some extra attention. Add to/alter the list to fit your goals for self-care.

Weekly Self-Care ChecklistSunMonTueWedThuFriSat
Got enough sleep       
Had a shower       
Had nourishing meals for breakfast/lunch/dinner       
Had 30 minutes of physical exercise (walk, run, etc.)       
Drank 8 glasses of water       
Spent time outside        
Reflected on personal challenges and difficulties       
Motivated myself with encouragement and affirmation       
Allowed myself to feel what I feel (for example, I cried when I was sad)        
Was aware of my feelings and emotions       
Was aware of my thoughts       
Connected with friends/family       
Felt supported by the important people in my life       
Set boundaries       
Shared important emotions with others       
Got out of bed in time       
Made a clear and manageable to-do list       
Had an organized work or study place       
Tidied up my space       
Went to bed in time       
Focused on one task at a time       
Did something creative (cooking, photography, writing, reading, making music).       
Listened to something relaxing (music, a podcast, an audiobook)       
Watched something relaxing (a movie, series, art)       
Had 15 minutes without anyone distracting me       

Final Note

Self-care is not intended to add stress. Instead, it might be helpful to view self-care as moments to pursue, instead of things to do. Pursue moments to take a breath and appreciate the things that you do accomplish. Take your dog for an extra walk before going into the next online meeting, enjoy a moment with your family instead of doing the dishes right away, walk to the mailbox rather than feeling like you need to run ten miles – these are examples of how you might pursue self-care moments. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. In today’s world, seemingly small tasks can become immense tasks. Reminding ourselves that we are doing the best we can, is enough. Take care!

SOURCEAero Crew News, January 2021
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Reini Thijssen is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHCA) and certified life coach specializing in working with aerospace professionals. She has been a writer for Aero Crew News since 2019 and covers various topics related to aviation concerning life- and career changes, relationships, and overall mental health. Reini is in private practice at Emerald Mental Health. She offers online mental health support to adult individuals and couples coping with a wide range of challenges such as anxiety, burnout, grief, and stress. For more information and questions, contact


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