Thoughts, Insights & Words of Wisdom

FIT YOUR OWN MASK FIRST

Self-care isn't selfish.

I recently hosted a Surviving Leadership Fatigue webinar to 140 very tired leaders and was emphatic in my message: self-care isn’t selfish.  To thrive in your career and life, and to be able to give fully to others, you must look after yourself first.

I fly back and forth to work.  A lot.  And like most of my fellow frequent flyers, I rarely listen carefully to the safety demonstration; it’s more like white noise interjecting my latest Audible book…emergency exits, blah, smoke detectors, blah blah, oxygen masks, more blah…

But listening or not, without fail, the cabin crew always tell you to fit your own mask first before helping others.

I’ve lost count of the number of clients and friends who have told me over the years that they feel as though their lives are “out of control” busy.  I heard myself saying exactly the same thing to my friend, just this morning.

It’s easy to trivialize it; we wear busyness as a badge of honour and yet with so many of us managing our competing priorities of family, career, friends, fitness (me, not so!) and goodness knows what else, it’s clear that proper, re-focusing, self-reflecting “down-time” has become unjustifiable indulgence in many people’s lives.

Self care is a vital part of your wellbeing and it’s importance cannot be underestimated.

Be the difference you want to make in others life. Look after yourself before you go out looking after a world full of need. – Bader

Lifestyle is a choice.

Every day we make choices.

“I’ll start back at the gym when this project is finished.”  “As soon as Easter’s over, I’ll get back to a healthy diet.” “I’ll stop [insert relevant vice here], after [insert relevant event here].”  You get the picture.

Balancing our work and lifestyle can be challenging, however, it is our lifestyle which is usually put on hold for us to be able to focus on getting our workload completed, whether you own your own business, are a CEO or an employee, we all have responsibilities to fulfil.  We spend the majority of our waking life at work and this is undoubtedly the cause of the majority of our stress, relationship and health problems.

It’s up to you to make the choices that will nurture and sustain you. Your physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, personal and professional health are all interconnected, and supporting one supports the others. So why so many of us procrastinate and use every excuse in the book to prioritise others – people and things – over our health and wellbeing – be that physical or mental?

Sometimes we give so much that we end up losing ourselves. – Unknown

It’s time to write a new rule book.

I often use this mental health self care wheel with my clients; it’s a simple but effective tool to talk through the six wellbeing areas and to get some clarity on the small slippages that have occurred over the weeks, months and years.

Recently I’d noticed some things about myself…the number of hours I sleep has diminished…the number of meals I eat a day has diminished…the time I spend taking care of myself has diminished.  I’m not complaining, it’s just how things have been.  And I’ve been fine with it but as much as I’d like to deny it…it’s taking a toll.

I’ve forgotten to put on my oxygen mask…and now I’m paying the price.

If, like me, you recognise any of these slippages, now could be the ideal time to put yourself at the top of the pile from now on. To write the rules that will help you thrive in whatever you do and realise that personal sacrifice for pure professional gain is NOT a sustainable solution.

We all wear a lot of hats….partners, siblings, parents, friends, colleagues, managers, coaches… There are so many people who rely on us, so many needs to be met, it’s easy to forget that we need to put fuel in our own tanks if we want to keep going.

What I’m saying here is not new, it’s certainly not rocket science, and it’s probably something you read, heard or even told yourself before (many times over, I’d guess).

But now it’s time to DO something, to take action. Without a healthy body and mind, nothing you are striving for today will mean anything in the future.

Time spent with a Coach will set you back on track to be the person you need to be for everyone else in your life, but more importantly, it will re-connect you with who you really are and who can put a price on that?

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Author: Jane Rennie

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