The Oxygen Mask Principle – When You Simply Need To Breathe

by Feb 22, 2018

Robin Lewis is a blessing. One of my most treasured memories of her occurred several years ago. It was a dark rainy night; the hospital had called informing me my son had been brought in with a severe head injury from an intruder and was dying. I called Robin and she prayed. My heart was quieted and my son recovered. 

I respect Robin’s advice and counsel and I am pleased to have her contribute to my blog. She has written The Oxygen Mask Principle: when you simply need to breathe. Join me and welcome her today. ~Barbara


Whether by car, boat, train, or plane, I love to travel; especially if my destination requires that I fly. I get excited booking a ticket and choosing flight times, layovers, and cities. After years of flying that included some overseas travel, there are some things I have learned that can apply to life in general.

Oxygen Mask Rules

If you have ever flown on a commercial flight, you have seen the flight attendants give instructions while the plane is taxiing to the runway. They demonstrate the seat belts, the floor lighting, and point out the exits. The last thing they present is the oxygen mask with these words. “If the cabin loses air pressure, the oxygen mask will fall in front of you. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, adjust the strap, and breathe normally.”

That’s important information! But it’s the next thing they say that stands out to me every time: “If you’re traveling with a small child or someone who will need assistance, place your oxygen mask on first, then assist them with their mask.”

What?! Aren’t we supposed to care for others before caring for ourselves? Nope, not on an airplane! Not when you need to breathe! If you try to place the oxygen mask on the person beside you before putting on yours, you will both pass out! Then you’re no help to anyone.

Boundaries & Breathing

As a certified life coach, I teach the principles of healthy boundaries for healthy relationships. Every client I have worked with has needed help establishing the boundaries they needed for their life.

Once learned, everything in life gets better for smart boundaries also give you the space you need for rest and caring for your life.

Godly boundaries are Biblical. My first marriage ended due to addiction and abuse. I had become very codependent and the idea of boundaries was completely foreign to me. I learned godly boundaries needed to be established and would be demonstrations of love for both me and my husband.

He didn’t like my boundaries, but I gathered courage to stand in what I realized was right instead of letting his ungodly choices direct my life. I began putting on my oxygen mask.

There are days life is so busy and burdened we can hardly take a breath. There are those of us who expend more life energy than we take in. That puts us out of balance physically, emotionally, and mentally. We need to learn and practice the boundaries we need if we want to have the health and energy to enjoy our lives more and steward our lives as gifts of God.

Many of you reading this post have a habit of caring and doing so much for others that you never take a break, down time, or space to just breathe. Like I used to do, you are putting the oxygen mask on others before yourself.

If we want to be able to care for and serve others who need us, then we must realign our thinking about caring for ourselves. If we don’t, we will acquire symptoms of burn-out and eventually our own health will suffer. God wants us to steward and love our inner life in the same way we care for our outer physical life.

Jesus knew the power in rest and invites us to rest in Him in the same way He taught the disciples. “Come aside with Me by yourselves and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)

Create Margin

Begin creating margin in your life that allows you time for refreshment and renewal. Choose from this list of tried and true habits:

  • Go for a walk
  • Have coffee with a friend
  • Go to the beach
  • Meditate or schedule a spiritual retreat
  • Take a power nap
  • Leave time in your schedule for recreation
  • Learn to say “no” – save your “yes” for what’s best
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Pray daily and read the Bible

Living a Balanced Life

These aren’t just good ideas; habits like these are your oxygen mask! As far as prayer and Bible reading, God’s Word says that our very lives are blessed and rightly balanced from knowing what the Bible says and living in relationship with our Creator.

Meditate on God’s Word day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

“Man cannot live by bread alone, but needs every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) I love how The Message Bible says this: “You need a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” Not only do we need it, God’s help is available to us continuously.

When you feel pressure from life’s expectations, when you feel like you’re not doing enough or are good enough, when you feel overloaded and weighed down and don’t have enough space to breathe, stop and put on your oxygen mask. Seek the Lord for help, guidance, and relief. He knows you intimately and loves you completely.

Breathe. In Christ, perfectly imperfect, you are enough.

About the Author:

Robin has a free gift for you on her website! Visit and get your copy of “5 Essential Prayers for Every Believer”. Stay connected by subscribing to her free blog and following her on Facebook.

Robin Lewis, The Freedom Coach, is a Certified Life Coach helping women identify and confront what’s holding them back, so they can live a confident, powerful, and fulfilling life in Christ. Visit her website for more information.  

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