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Published May 16, 2012, 11:30 PM

Mathison: Self-care may be a key part of healthy life

My 4-year-old son Grant loves “reading” the laminated safety card in the airline seat pocket. He will be thrilled when he gets to go to Summer Safety Camp. We all know that we are supposed to put on our own oxygen masks first, but how many of us really do that in our daily lives?

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, Areavoices.com, INFORUM

I was recently on a business trip, absent-mindedly observing the flight attendant give safety instructions.

My 4-year-old son Grant loves “reading” the laminated safety card in the seat pocket. He will be thrilled when he gets to go to Summer Safety Camp.

We all know that we are supposed to put on our own oxygen masks first, but how many of us really do that in our daily lives?

Something that really strikes me as I take care of patients is the level of fatigue and stress present for many of us, as if we are forgetting to pay attention to our own safety cards.

I think putting on our own oxygen mask first may be the key to health care reform. Though this column is in SheSays and we hear women express these feelings more often, the men in our lives get tired and overwhelmed, too.

The mind-body connection is real for all of us, and it starts with taking care of yourself. Our moms can’t do it; our spouse can’t do it; our kids can’t do it; our friends can’t do it. We need to make the best choices and do the work of self care.

Self care is a practice that we have to work at so that becomes a way of life. The good news is: This is work that feels good and is good for you.

Self care is about taking the time to do those things that nurture and sustain, and it looks a little different for everyone. What resonates with you? How many of these are on your list?

  • Make sleep a priority

  • Eat good food

  • Stay hydrated

  • Partake in activities that get your heart pumping, your lungs expanding and make you sweat a little.

  • Stretch. Yoga or Pilates anyone?

  • Breathe deeply

  • Use aromatherapy with essential oils

  • Take a warm bath

  • Find some peace and quiet

  • Unplug. Take a digital sabbatical.

  • Make dates with yourself

  • Schedule self care

  • Find friend time

  • Hire help

  • Trade help

  • Ask for help

  • Read a good book

  • Incorporate more music into life

  • Enjoy nature

  • Be present and completely absorbed in a delightful moment

  • Be OK with doing nothing once in a while

  • Smile and laugh more

  • Practice compassion and self acceptance – warts and all

  • Listen to your intuition

  • Respect your boundaries

  • Establish your own priorities

We talk about health care in crisis. Maybe self care reform is the start of a revolution to a happier, healthier life for all of us.

Buddha once said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Self care means saving a little love for yourself. For me, self care means making intentional choices and taking deliberate actions.

When I incorporate self care into my life, I am a better person, mom, wife, doctor, friend and volunteer

Make your own list. What works for you?

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com.

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