A guest blog by Susie Phillips-Baker.
‘See to your own oxygen mask first’
‘Adults of young children please see to your own oxygen masks first’ – advice I heard recently on a flight from Exeter. And again the same week on the radio, while listening to a woman who sadly lost her husband to cancer and was finding ways to survive, and look after their three children on her own. Her survival strategy was to see to her own oxygen mask first. This could be very true for someone who is grieving, who needs to remind themselves to just breathe in and out to get through the day. However, I think we could also take this advice on board and ensure that we are looking after our own wellbeing before we can help others. We are not going to be much use to anyone else without doing so! (…at least not in the long run).
In my work supporting individuals in their professional development, I see this as particularly relevant for me. I need to remember to invest in my own wellbeing in order to perform my job effectively. I particularly find it useful to draw on the support of like-minded individuals who I have been lucky to come across through my work and life. People I have identified as my ‘radiators’; they motivate and encourage me. They enable me to be effective in my work by highlighting my strengths and bringing out the best in me.
In terms of what I do for myself, I meditate (I could be better!) and I do regular yoga. I run when I can to keep fit. I take the things that ‘nourish me’ seriously, and ensure I do them regularly. These can be as simple as spending time with good friends, walking, reading, even drinking more water! Whatever it takes to keep my energy topped up and my wellbeing in balance.
I have a passion for learning and so for me investing in my ongoing development is also really important to me. I have recently trained as a facilitator of the Thinking Environment®, which involves creating the conditions for effective and independent thinking in others. This has been a significant turning point for me, which has given me the tools to be more at ease in myself, to be more present with others, to pay better attention (less ‘listening to respond’ more ‘listening to encourage’). Using this approach we can all appreciate the potential in others and I have witnessed the improved quality of people’s thinking, including my own when using some of the principles. It is liberating!
It is vitally important to prioritise our own wellbeing and to look after ourselves, so that we can in turn look after the needs of others.
Susie Phillips-Baker is a Business Psychologist and Coach