I’ve been in a mental funk the past few days and was hoping things would improve on my drive out to Huntsville State Park yesterday. Things didn’t pick up for me mentally until I set foot on the trail, albeit slowly.

As much as I wanted to be completely in service to everybody passing through the #Damnation aid station for Rocky Raccoon, I wasn’t. Not at first anyway. I put on a show, yes. I was doing my best, yes, but I wasn’t being authentic. I put on a social mask that sort of looked like normal, positive Justin. But I wasn’t in integrity with myself, no.

I felt disconnected – disconnected from people, from the trail, and the trail running community at large. Maybe it was due to COVID season, maybe something else. Or maybe it just was. I don’t know. Whatever the case, it’s okay.

Bummer though, because volunteering is the best. At least it has been in the past. So after my first shift I went back to my car to get some sleep, hoping that some well-needed rest would improve my mental state.

And it did! It worked! I was back and ready to just be. Maybe I appeared the same to others, maybe I didn’t. But I felt in alignment with myself, back into integrity.

Metallica was playing. I was dancing by myself in the middle of the cold night in 37 degree temperatures, making sure everyone had as much water and Tailwind as they needed to get back to the start/finish.

It’s a wonderful thing to be in service to others. And I truly believe that we must first be in service to ourselves. Some might say this is selfish. I’d say it’s absolutely necessary.

I like to bring up the analogy of airplane emergencies and taking care of your own oxygen mask before helping others. A bit drastic of an example, but you can’t help others if you’re passed out from a lack of oxygen.

The same is true in daily life. Practicing self-care first allows us to bring the best version of ourselves into the world. In this way we can authentically be our best for others, too.

This little morning hike through the woods after 14 hours of service is a great example of self-care for me.

How do you practice self-care?