Whenever you board a plane you hear the safety warning:  “If you are traveling with a small child or infant and the oxygen masks are released, you need to place your mask on first and then assist your child.”  So why is it that parents routinely neglect their own needs and put themselves on the back burner, knowing that just like with those oxygen masks, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you cannot not take care of others?

Like many parents, I once believed that if I focused on taking care of my family, I’d get to myself eventually (something I discuss in detail in my book, The Day I Took Off My Cape). You can continue like this, but you will inevitably find yourself depleted with nothing left to give. Yet I know plenty of parents who have also tried this approach, until finally realizing no one actually benefits from this behavior.  I call this behavior the result of the “superhero” ego.  You know, the one who thinks they can do it all and will do it all, no matter the cost? You better tell your ego to have several seats and begin to create space in your life for balance.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have to do things of the superhero nature at times or we’d get nothing done, but we also need to take care of ourselves. When we are taken care of, we have a sense of balance, purpose and we feel fulfilled. Thus, we have plenty to give to our children and/or spouses.

Here are 4 steps to begin taking care of you:

1) You want to set the tone for your day and you can do this by starting of your day with a positive reading, inspirational word and/or prayer and meditation. If you have to wake up 15 to 30 minutes earlier to incorporate this, do it! It will make a world of a difference.

2) Find the time in your schedule to walk, run and/or take an exercise class at least 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes.  When we exercise we create endorphins and endorphins naturally make us happy and give us energy.  This will give you the energy to complete your daily tasks!

3) Treat yourself. Yes treat yourself! Whether it is a manicure, hair appointment, massage, a movie, dinner at a favorite restaurant…just find time to do something that makes you feel special.  We all deserve to be rewarded, refreshed and refueled. 

4) Last and certainly not least, get rid of dysfunctional people!  Just thinking about this can be freeing, but actually doing it will be soul liberating!  There is nothing greater than taking care of yourself by taking care of your soul.  When you can protect your spirit from nonsense you can begin to fill it with substance, which will be rewarding.

These steps may require some small shifts to occur in your life (step 4 may require a big shift.)  However, the outcome will definitely be outweighed with pros than cons, because taking these steps is allowing you to become a better you.

When you become a better you, your relationships, your family and your business will benefit and thrive.  So next time you reach for the oxygen mask in life, remember to put yours on first.

Audrey Griffin is a wife, mother of four, inspiring educator and parenting lifestyle consultant. Visit her website, check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.