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Do you know how, during the pre-flight speech on any major airline, the flight attendant instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping your child or someone else do the same? It may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. How can you help anyone else if you’re too light-headed from lack of oxygen yourself?

A growing body of research shows that this kind of self-care—the act of putting ourselves first—is just as important in everyday situations. Self-care is an important tool for managing stress and building resilience.

Often we don’t think about taking care of ourselves until it’s too late and we’re already exhausted, stressed out or even sick. Self-care works best when it’s proactive and preventive. By taking care of ourselves on a regular basis, we can become more rested, patient and understanding which helps to improve our outlook and relationships.

Want some help getting started? Below are some self-care activities that can lead to better balance.

Try picking a few activities that you enjoy and putting some of them on your schedule each week.

Take care of yourself – Often when we are busy serving others we neglect our own grooming, health and comfort. Remember that if you’re not at your best, you can’t give your best to those who matter, so be sure to take care of yourself first. Some ideas: While you’re preparing the kids’ lunches, make something healthy for yourself to eat at lunch too. Turn off the computer and the phone and get to sleep an hour earlier. Take short breaks during the day for a solitary walk outside. Put your feet up, sip some tea and read a favorite book.

Find a hobby that’s yours alone – Though it’s great to have joint hobbies with your significant other, it’s ok to have your own hobbies too. Thoughts: Do some crafts. Start a kitchen garden. Take an art or photography class. Volunteer. Cook. Anything that interests you and brings you contentment.

Remember your individuality– It’s easy to forget that you’re an individual when you are in a couple. Taking a step back to remember who you are and exercising your individuality can help keep things fresh and interesting in your relationship. Thoughts: Express your personal style in your wardrobe, thoughts, and activities. Set some of your own personal goals like going back to school, training for a marathon or learning a new skill or language.

Stop and smell the roses – Breathe deeply and take time to listen and experience the environment around you.