Putting on My Oxygen Mask First

safety_oxygen_maskI’ve been flying way too much over the last six months for work. Truthfully, it has been a royal pain in the butt most of the time. Weather delays, an eclectic array of irritating passengers, and never enough legroom. However, I did learn a very important nugget of wisdom from sitting on all of those cramped Southwest 737s.

As part of the standard emergency procedures overview that is repeated before every flight, the flight attendants instruct passengers to first put on their oxygen masks before helping someone else if the cabin should lose air pressure. It seems like basic common sense if you’re in the unfortunate situation of being in a midair emergency. But, if you really think about it, it’s an amazing life strategy that I certainly need to be reminded of from time to time.

The big message in this simple, yet complex instruction is that only when you take care of yourself, can you help others.

Without putting on your oxygen mask, you won’t be conscious to assist a fellow passenger. From a broader perspective, without taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, you won’t be of much benefit to anyone else – whether it’s a partner, a child, an aging parent, a friend, or a client.

Taking care of your needs on a daily basis is essential for being the best that you can be for yourself, as well as for others. And that requires time each day for exercise, eating right, rest, fun, and reflection.

I’ve often put aside my own needs to work just a bit longer or to do something for someone else. In fact, I could probably still fill up every waking hour with just work. Yet, without recharging my batteries, my days of nonstop work would eventually come to a screeching halt.

Unfortunately, due to a family situation that went on for far too long, I spent many years with no oxygen mask on. I worked nonstop thinking I was helping, but it didn’t in the long run.

Now a bit older and wiser, I’m heeding the sage advice of those Southwest flight attendants and making my well-being a priority. Yep, I’m putting on my oxygen mask first. Now, where are my roasted peanuts and complimentary beverage?

Song of the Day: Looking Out for Number One – Bachman Turner Overdrive


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