Put on your own oxygen mask first.
It is a message that all the airlines give us in their safety videos; but one that we also need to listen to as leaders, particularly when we are going through challenging times.
I firmly believe in this, but I’ll be honest – this is a lesson I am still learning. During COVID we saw how much genuine leaders cared about their people. We also saw the effect when those leaders gave everything of themselves without keeping anything in reserve for themselves. Burn out rates increased considerably during this time. A study taken in late 2021, showed 61% of managers were feeling some degree of burnout.
Good leaders know that they need to practice self-care. They need to put their own oxygen mask on first – both in every day life and during emergencies. When you run out of oxygen yourself, you are no good to anyone else.
One of the most effective things I think everyone can do is to be aware of what feeds them oxygen … what recharges their batteries so to speak. We often know what it is at home, but we can also be aware of things that will work in the workplace. It might be a 5 minute chat with a colleagues, making a cuppa, 10 minutes of mindfulness, a walk in fresh air around the block – there are so many great little recharges that we can each use during a work day to put some oxygen back into our systems.
I encourage everyone to think about what recharges them and use that purposefully during the day.
It is OK to be selfish with this sometimes. In fact, taking care of yourself is ultimately not selfish – because it ensures your ongoing ability to be there for others.