When travelling on a plane (who remembers those!) we are asked to ‘put on our own oxygen mask first before helping others’ in the safety video. This is a great metaphor for life and for business. But what does it actually mean?
When it comes to looking after ourselves, we’re generally pretty bad at it. We exhaust ourselves working to the bone, helping everyone else and forgetting our needs. To ‘put on our own oxygen mask first’ means to take care of ourselves first. This is not about being selfish, it is about making sure we are physically, mentally and emotionally stable and healthy so that we can support others and thrive as a collective.
In Kouzers and Posner’s functional leadership model, the first rule of leadership is to ‘Model the Way’. Being burnt out, exhausted, cranky, ill, sleep deprived or highly stressed does not model good leadership (or parenting or friendship for that matter) nor does it create thriving cultures or high performing teams.
Research by the New Economics Foundation states that the following five things are crucial in improving our well-being: Connecting, Being active, Taking notice, Learning and Giving.
Often as individuals we focus on doing these things ‘outside of work’. We’ll make plans to connect with our friends on the weekends or make sure we’re good neighbours by giving them left over cake. All lovely things but more than ever it’s important to make sure these steps are incorporated into our work day too in order to create balance, feel more motivated at work and really really be feeling our best.
Now that a lot of us are working from home, conversations near the coffee machine are non existent. Do you know how your team and colleagues are really doing? Scheduling some time to simply check in with colleagues can benefit everyone’s well-being and make them feel listened, cared for and connected.
2. Being active
Lockdown and not commuting has meant that many of us struggle to get our steps in, some of us even outside. It is so important that we create time to do so. At Lea_p, we encourage our weekly hourly check-ins to be done outside on a walk in nature which has been a great way to be active that day. It’s important to make sure when you’re working from home you have a routine that allows you and your team to take lunch breaks in which they can do a 20 minute exercise routine or go for a walk should they want. Not only is it great for your body but even better for your mind too. A simple 20 minute walk can give you a natural energy boost, help you feel less tension and can help you feel more mindful. Which takes us to the next point!
3. Taking notice
Spending some time to ‘take notice’ can strengthen our self-awareness. Some ways to do this could be by doing a meditation (see here for some free guided ones), writing what you’re grateful for at the end of the work day or setting an intention for the start of your work day. Taking some time out of your day to be mindful will also allow you to feel less reactive at work, reflect on what’s stressing you out that day and help you feel a lot more creative too.
Is there something you really enjoy about your job or something you’d like to know more of? Making sure you’re making the most out of opportunities that there may be available to improve your skill set can boost your confidence whilst keeping you motivated. Learning keeps your mind engaged which is really important for times like these.
Everyone is struggling with lockdown in one form of another. Now is an even more wonderful time to do a kind gesture for a colleague! Maybe it’s acknowledging someone via a 5 minute call, sending someone a card or lending them a hand with a tedious work task. Helping others is not only known to improve your wellbeing, but of course the person you’re helping.
Making sure you and your team are incorporating the 5 ways to well-being is really important in order to have happy, motivated and engaged employees. Having a personal weekly check-in where you reflect on each 5 things would be a great idea to make sure you’re really looking after yourself.
Lea_p have several Mental Health offerings that can support should you need more tips! https://www.lea-p.com/mentalhealth