Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Put on Your Own Mask First

When you fly, do you listen to the flight attendant’s instructions before you take off? Sometimes, if I’m in the exit row, I read the card about how to open the door on that particular aircraft before our departure –but that’s about it. If you fly often enough, you probably don’t pay much attention to how to fasten and unfasten your lap belt, where the exits are, or that there are little lights along the aisle floor that will lead you to the nearest exit.  How many times have you heard the flight attendant, when giving emergency preparedness instructions, direct you to put your own oxygen mask on first, if you are with a child or beside someone who needs assistance, in the event of the loss of cabin pressure? It is a simple notion, really – if you pass out from lack of oxygen, are you of any use to anyone else?

The same goes for those of us who care for others every day. In the business, we call it “Self-care for Helping Professionals” – it is a specialized practice geared toward those of us who spend our days, particularly in our places of business, pouring our energy into others. At Eyes Turned Skyward Coaching, the list includes therapists, lawyers, teachers, ministers, medical professionals, and stay at home moms and dads. Do you fit into one of these categories? The list is by no means exhaustive. But it is a reality in caring for others that we tend to neglect ourselves. Why do we do it? The reasons are different for each of us.

One client (who gave me permission to share her story), who is a labor doula, shared a recent experience attending a birth, where she spent the day laboring with the mother, but did not take any breaks for herself – she did not eat or stay hydrated – ensuring that the new mother had all that she needed, but neglected herself in the process. Together we were able to develop a plan that would make certain that she will be prepared in every way possible to keep up her own strength while she attends future births.

Some solutions may seem obvious, but it’s not always that simple. For example, how does a pastor or a rabbi keep the Sabbath when ministry happens everyday?  How does a stay at home mom or dad carve out time to take care of oneself, when charged with every aspect of sustaining children – well beyond the hours of a typical “fulltime” job?

Are you at risk of burning out?

As a coach, I partner with my clients to identify ways to better care of oneself - to establish a wellness routine, make a plan for stress reduction – even find ways to put fun back into life. Our lives, at work and at home, are so much more satisfying when we establish a self-care plan that works for us.

Are you willing to put on your own mask first?

"If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Jimmy Durante

Eyes Turned Skyward Personal and Executive Coaching

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