Six Healthy Self Care Tips

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Edward Vargas
  • 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron

In my opinion, one of the most profound concepts of self-care is echoed each time I fly on a commercial airline, “Place your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”

For many of us, we task saturate our lives in order to ensure those who rely on us are taken care of. Although those closest to us take priority in our lives, we can only help others when we are well balanced and in optimum health. With that, I have devised six tips for self-care.

Consult with Friends/Family

Airmen at every level experience high levels of stress and anxiety that affects us on a personal level. Find a real person that you trust and talk to them about what troubles you. Avoid sharing intimate details of your life on social media. Holding onto emotional baggage is not a sign of strength. Instead, having the courage to be transparent and vulnerable is needed, providing us an outlet that can strengthen our personal relationships. Additionally, seek advice from a first sergeant, supervisor or mental health professional for more serious concerns.    

Reserve Time for Yourself

Many of us sit at a computer most of the day, bombarded with endless emails and last minute taskers, just to find there are more to-do’s on our personal accounts. Our calendar reminders sound off throughout the workday and even remind us to complete something for someone else. Schedule time on your calendar to do something you enjoy during the week. Whether it’s reading a good book, taking a walk or turning off your social media reminders, allow yourself some free time to clear your mind. Read something that brings you joy or inspiration in order to recharge your batteries for the week.

Calling all “People Pleasers!”

Don’t be afraid to say “no” from time to time. For example, if after a long, hard week, your neighbor asks you to dog sit for the third time after you’ve just pulled gate guard duty in 8-degree weather and covered a co-worker’s shift who took leave at the last minute, it’s OK to say no. For some of us, this isn’t easy, but train yourself to say no when you just need a breather. 

Integrity and Values

At times, we may not feel our hearts are in agreement with what we are required to perform at work. I recommend staying grounded in your personal beliefs. Whenever possible, practice behavior that reaffirms your personal value system and protect the part of you that makes you unique. For example, the work environment may not be the best place to express your passion about food waste by monitoring the break room trash can and lecturing staff concerning the latest statistics on world hunger. Instead, donate to a local food bank or volunteer to serve homeless veterans if that is your thing.  

Maintain Physical Health

We have heard repeatedly to eat right and exercise. That is important, but we must not forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. Manage your time well enough to ensure you are getting a healthy amount of sleep every night by setting specific times for yourself when you are working on a project or homework. Rest is just as important as exercise.

Prep the Battlefield

Stay informed on events that may affect you and loved ones, and prepare. If you are anticipating a long temporary duty or deployment, ensure their needs will be met in the best way possible before you depart. This will help you maintain peace of mind. Reach out to supporting organizations or trusted friends when needed. In addition, read about upcoming events published in papers or directives and gain a strategic advantage for potential life-altering events.

Your career, family and friends will continue to demand your time and attention. Balancing and prioritizing your time will remain a daily challenge. Although serving in this capacity may give us joy and purpose, don’t forget to fortify yourself so you can remain a positive force for those you choose to serve.