Put Your Wellbeing Mask on First Before Helping Others

by Norman Winegar, on Aug 25, 2020 5:46:44 PM


Recall the flight safety instructions we always hear just before takeoff? The ones to which you don’t pay much attention. Remember the part that says, secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others- as in your child. That’s good advice because if we are not safely breathing, how can help others? A version of that guidance applies to you today as a leader of an organization during the coronavirus pandemic and economic and social disruptions that have characterized the summer of 2020.

You are very busy helping your employees navigate irregular operations or business re-openings, while of course at the same time helping them find autonomy, mastery and relatedness. And while you are helping them adjust as parents to the new normal of at-home schooling and working in a pandemic. All while doing a myriad of other routine and not-so-routine work tasks. You are doing all this and much more. You yourself are adjusting to this new work environment while coping with your own challenges in your personal and family life.

Some of you are working, coping, managing and juggling while being a caregiver to elderly loved ones, often while parenting children or grandchildren. Or possibly you are doing all this while managing a mental health or substance misuse condition, a family conflict, personal financial stress. Or while coping with a medical or health condition yourself or that of a loved one.  All while attempting to avoid- or maybe recovering from- COVID. Each of us faces a unique set of ongoing stressors that calls forth personal self-care.

Back to the “put your oxygen mask on first” guidance. Before you can help others at work and at home, you must first take care of your own wellbeing. I know. It’s easier said than done. To get it done, let’s keep it simple.

Here are five simple, guilt-free, and powerful strategies you can do every day to support your own wellbeing:

1. Find things for which you are grateful.

Do this every day. Your list can be long or short. Just be mindful and intentional. Gratitude breeds happiness. Practicing gratitude everyday has been shown to train our minds to be more positive and to increase our feelings of personal happiness and wellbeing.

2. Find a reason to laugh. Do so often. 

Find your own brand of humor. As a practitioner, is it self-effacing humor, sarcasm, wordplay, even dark humor? Or as an observer, do you find humor in your favorite sit-coms, movies, or YouTube videos? Laughter is contagious, meaning it helps others too. You can feel good about that. Selfishly, it reduces our personal stress and it has health benefits too.

3. Limit your viewing of social media and media in general.

This self-regulation of something you can control may help you feel less anxious in these uncertain times.  Be sure that you rely on reputable media sources for information.

4. Maintain structure in your daily routine.

Set times for specific rewarding activities, like (stress-reducing) exercise.  Stick to, guard and defend your routine. This will create predictability and control and a counterbalance to the uncertainties of the world.

5. Finally, listen. 

Really listen to others. Ask open ended questions. You don’t have to have answers or solutions. Many times, we help others simply by listening and offering support and encouragement.  Many people find this approach rewarding. By doing so you are modeling helpful behaviors that others will adopt.

Remember. Always put your own wellbeing mask on first. Then help others.

There are nine different types of humor…
Emily Blatchford

Women In Trucking Association has partnered with Norman Winegar's company, Espyr, to provide mental health support to professional drivers. Learn More

Topics:Professional DevelopmentWork/Life BalanceHealth and Wellness

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