Take Your Own Oxygen First – How to Relax in the Midst of it All

looking through the window of the plane Guest Post from certified life coach Julia James

Happy New Year! You may have noticed that I didn't post last week. I had intended to. I was planning to record a video expressing my gratitude for you as a way to wrap up 2013. However, instead of recording a video, I was experiencing crazy fever-fuelled dreams and re-visiting what I had eaten the day before. Yup, I had the stomach flu. Ugh. But while it wasn't a pleasant way to spend the first days of a new year, it did serve as a great way to make me appreciate health!

Today's guest post is from Julia James. I met Julia this Fall as I've been getting to know folks in my new home of Victoria. She has a lot of wisdom to share, especially for super busy people. Sound like anyone you know?! Enjoy!


Take Your Own Oxygen First – How to Relax in the Midst of it All


The reason they always mention in the airplane safety procedure that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first and then help your kids, is that this simple survival skill doesn’t necessarily come “natural”.


My friend Gwen recognizes in retrospect how very hard she was on herself through her busy working and child raising years. When she reached retirement, her immune system collapsed and she is still recovering. Learning how to relax and reduce stress is a huge part of her healing process. She wishes she had known how to relax when she was in the midst of it all and hopes that many working mothers will learn from her story and integrate relaxation in their lives before stress takes a toll on their health.


Most of us have to re-learn how to relax and how to take care of ourselves first. Here are a few ideas the wise working mothers in my circle shared with me.


Your Kids Are Teachers of Mini-Retreats

My friend Katherine shared with me that when she does all the household chores while spending time with her 15 month old daughter, she usually listens to the radio. “My daughter is usually content playing on her own for a while. One day, when I glanced at her, I saw her grooving to the rhythm of the music. What a great reminder for me! My daughter showed me how to relax and enjoy the music in the midst of doing my chores. I can get so focused on the task at hand that I don’t even hear the music. My daughter helps me come back to the present moment. It’s a gift!”


The six-month old son of a dear friend was recently diagnosed with a tumour in his brain that needs to be treated. It is inspiring to see my friend’s optimistic outlook and witness her moving forward graciously. She says that her son reminds her how to relax and enjoy the moment. Here are a few moments of joy she shared:

  • a laughing fit when he first heard the word book,
  • the joyful discovery of making sniffing sounds,
  • his delight in feeling the first raindrops on his face.


Take a moment to observe your child. Notice what your child is doing, learning or noticing. Participate in your child’s new discoveries or actions. Within seconds you will feel more relaxed and present.


Make Relaxation a Priority

You may feel that there is no time in your day to relax. However, if you look again, you may just recognize opportunities all around. Here’s what the mothers in my circle have done to make relaxation an integral part of their days and weeks.


My accountant, Diane, a mother of four, loves to treat herself with a soothing bath at the end of the day. Relaxing in her bath tub with candles and completely letting go is her favourite way to relax. Since I gifted her with The Mini-Retreat Solution her repertoire of relaxation techniques has vastly expanded. She now finds ways to take a mini-vacation in her mind several times throughout the day, even in the midst of tax season.


My friend Donna says, “As a mother of two boys (13 and 8 years old), knowing how to relax and refresh in the midst of it all is very important! I go for a short walk after dinner with my husband – no kids!”


Another friend of mine shared with me that she decided to make her morning shower her Mini-Retreat. Even though she has very little time to herself, being a new mom, this choice has helped her relax and recharge on a daily basis and she feels more energized and happier as a result.


How to Integrate Mini-Retreats into Your Life

  • Look for opportunities in your day that could become Mini-Retreats (such as your morning shower or red traffic lights). Write them down.
  • Write down your favourite ways to relax.
  • Schedule at least one of your favourite Mini-Retreats into your week.
  • If you need support from your husband or a friend, make a request today.
  • Stick to your schedule and make your weekly Mini-Retreat a priority.


This is YOU taking your own oxygen first!


Julia James is a certified life coach with uncommon enthusiasm and insight. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives. Author of the award-winning book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and relax and re-energize quickly. For more information, please visit: www.juliajames.ca