There’s a reason you’re instructed to put your own oxygen mask on first in case of an emergency on an aeroplane: You can’t help other people unless you first help yourself.

The same goes for life in general. When you’re busy with work, kids, commitments, and who knows what else, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always putting everyone else’s needs before your own.

But here’s the rub; you can’t look after other people to your full potential if you don’t first look after yourself. In fact, by putting yourself last you’re doing the very people you’re wanting to help a disservice. You won’t be performing at your best.

It’s not selfish to take time out for yourself; to take control of your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Look after yourself and you’ll have the energy – the oxygen – to look after those around you and you’ll be a better parent, partner, friend and colleague as a result.

On the weekend I did just that. I had a very rare, long overdue night away with my girlfriends – without kids or partners. There were 11 of us who have all been friends since high school (some since kindergarten). We hadn’t been together alone like that overnight for a lot of years.

It was a wonderful night: we laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank, and we talked. And talked… We shared our joys and sorrows, our achievements and our disappointments, our successes and failures. We spoke about the past and also the future. We were honest, with no topic off limits.

Sometimes you need to do that. Whether it’s as luxurious as a night away to check out of the demands of parenthood and partnership, or as simple as an hour to yourself to enjoy coffee in a café, or committing to a weekly exercise class, you need to take time to put your own oxygen mask on; to look after yourself and recharge so you can come home revived and ready to support those who depend on you.

It’s important and you’ll be a better person for it.

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