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Friday, 1 December, 2023

Fit Your Own Face Mask First!

Fit Your Own Face Mask First! It’s Monday 2nd November, and it is 48 hours after lockdown 2.0 had been announced in England. Michael Heppell, a successful author and motivational speaker, is broadcasting ‘Magic Monday’ live on his ‘How to Be Brilliant’ Facebook group. As a regular viewer I knew it would engage, enthuse and inspire me, it didn’t disappoint. 

The session was titled “Fit Your Own Face Mask First!”, a message we have all heard whilst thumbing through an inflight magazine. It’s a key safety briefing on all flights and here is Virgin Atlantic’s take on it:

‘It’s unlikely, but if the cabin pressure changes suddenly during the flight, oxygen masks will automatically drop from the compartment above your seat. If this happens, pull one of the masks down to your face and cover your nose and mouth …

‘Be sure to put your mask on before helping others and keep it on until a crew member advises you to take it off’.

I’ve left the first part in for dramatic effect, but how often during everyday life does the ‘cabin pressure’ drop? Thus, finding ourselves in a challenging situation with others. In the safety briefing we are told to look after ourselves first, making sure we are safe before engaging in helping others.

How often do we do this in ‘real life?’

It is in our nature to support and nurture others. There has even been conjecture that when being kind and helpful, we experience both emotional and physical benefits. It makes us happier, give us a sense of purpose and meaning, and even lowers blood pressure. We generally feel good, as dopamine (the happy neurotransmitter) is being produced, so we want to do it more. There are studies suggesting criminals have been known to exhibit better behaviour after helping someone else.

Supporting people could literally change the world!

We are in a time of uncertainty, it is natural to want to help those in need, whether they be disadvantaged families or vulnerable people. In order to be effective, we need to be at 100%. We need to focus on ourselves first, YOU are the most important person. If we don’t take care of ourselves how can we give 100% to our families, friends or teams. Putting it another way; our mobile phone battery is at 5%, what do we do? Normally, there is mild panic, but we recharge it, we don’t let it run down completely. So why don’t we recharge ourselves?

Over recent months there has been massive focus on mental and physical wellbeing, both at home and at work. Following the most recent set of restrictions we are back working from home; we may have been furloughed for a 2nd time or even lost our jobs. Business leaders are continually focused on their team’s wellbeing, at the detriment of their own, continuing to deal with business-critical issues, and individual personal challenges. How many are sitting at 5%, with their internal battery flashing red? Forgetting to, metaphorically speaking, plug in and recharge? 

A recent study by the School for CEOs, in conjunction with Heriot Watt University’s Department of Psychology, reported some worrying results from Lockdown 1.0.

‘The findings showed that 42% of senior leaders were at high risk of burnout during lockdown, despite being psychologically resilient individuals. CEOs displayed fewer signs of burnout and emotional exhaustion during the lockdown crisis and were more positive than their executive colleagues’. 

The study also looked at the effect of lockdown on men and women, discovering that women were at higher risk of burnout than their male counterparts (47% compared to 40%). Women also expressed more negative emotions than men during the height of the crisis. Women also took on greater responsibility for home schooling with 25% of female leaders taking full responsibility for the educational demands of their children compared to only 3% of male leaders. 

The research also discovered that 61% of younger leaders (aged 24-39) were at higher risk of burnout compared to more mature leaders (aged over 50).

As businesses move towards 2021 the wellbeing of ALL employees should be #1 priority. Offering company benefits that align to a culture of rest and relaxation, in conjunction with commercial success. There are businesses that already offer employees ‘life leave’; two weeks paid leave for ‘life’ events, such as moving to a new house, getting married or integrating a pet into the household. All in addition to annual leave, which their teams can then use for recharging their batteries. We need to think outside the box. Offering tangible wellbeing benefits, such as National Trust memberships, encouraging people out into the fresh air. 

As I sign off, take a moment to consider how you spend your ‘free’ time. How often are you recharging your batteries? Taking time for YOU, relax and recharge the mind, body and soul. 

Wellbeing is for life, not just for 2020. 


David Rogers
David Rogers
David Rogers is a CIMA qualified accountant who has worked across multiple functions, in numerous industries, all within the private sector. Having spent the last 15 years working in the Hospitality industry, he firmly believes that people make a difference and are the catalyst for success across all key metrics of a business. He is currently using his private sector experience supporting two organisations close to his heart, a community-based charity in Wolverhampton and the Careers Development programme within state schools and colleges across the Black Country.

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