Putting on your oxygen mask


Stepping to something different gives your mind something different to focus on.
Candice Pillay | Director Norton Rose Fulbright SA.

Some time ago, Joseph Prince, a television evangelist, talked about the safety demonstration on an airplane.

The instruction to put on his oxygen mask before helping others was so profound that it changed his philosophy on rest and wellness.

In a corporate environment or as an entrepreneur, rest or taking time out can be a dangerous past time. When your time is devoted to building your career or your business, strategy tells you that you always have to be alert, always on the lookout for the next opportunity, always ready to adapt should the market change.

The safety demonstration however spoke to a much deeper truth and that is the rate at which many entrepreneurs and corporate climbers’ burn-out before they reach the levels expected. Here are some truths to help you focus on your well-being and health. The absence of mental illness is not mental wellness.

Working 24/7 might be the cathartic exercise you need to achieve great things and many pride themselves on getting up and working despite their worlds falling apart. But the absence of a mental illness or a mental health issue doesn’t mean that you’re mentally well or that you’re in a state of mental health wellness. Much like pushing our bodies to the limits, the body gets exhausted. We all suffer from mental fatigue, we all get tired, the hustle stretches us to the limits and there are moments when we all have to take off the masks. Take care of your mental fatigue. Rest.

The shackles that anchor me Identify the things that are causing you stress. Relationships, people, revenue, expenses – these can all be stressors that affect your mental health and create imbalance. Some of these stressors may be your shackles, the things you feel that you can’t get rid of in your life. We often look at our anchors as the good things that happen to us and the shackles as the bad things in our life. But imagine what happens if we change that perspective. Try seeing your stressors as the very things you need – your anchors and immediately they no longer are a stressor, but something that is vital and essential to grow your business. What previously was a grudge purchase now is a real and valuable aspect of your business. The fruit is not harvested the day it is planted

We push ourselves to optimum performance all of the time. We expect great things from ourselves and from others. However, you should manage your expectations. It reduces the levels of stress that you feel and that you impose on others. Not everything will happen immediately, as the saying goes, the fruit is not harvested on the day it is planted. Worrying about the outcomes and pushing yourself and your team to achieve the outcome creates unnecessary stress. Take two steps back, allow the opportunity time to grow and acknowledge that timing is everything. Sending out your SOS. One of the biggest failures as human beings is not asking for help or seeing a request for help as a sign of weakness. I get it, the hustle is tough, and you can’t show weakness. If you can’t ask for help, then delegate the responsibility to someone else and lighten your workload. Everything buckles under the strain when it is overloaded – you will too.

Heal so you don’t hear things from the filter of pain. Disappointment and rejection is the name of the game when you are shooting for the stars. Very seldom are our career paths created for us to sail through. There are going to be disappointments along the way, a delayed promotion or a rejected bid. This is part of the learning journey. But the emotions of pain behind that rejection and disappoints need to be dealt with. To deny that it hurt only makes the problem bigger. So heal from these wounds, because as you grow, these lessons will come around time and again. The rejection you received today might be your joint venture in the future.

For it to succeed you need to release the negative emotions and embrace the renewed opportunity. Reward yourself and give to yourself in equal measure

Giving ourselves to our business or jobs can deplete us. We give to our team members, we give to our families, our business partners, our customers, our suppliers. We give of our time, our resources, our advices, our empathy, and our emotions. What do we give to ourselves? Reward yourself with rest but also reward yourself with the things you need and want. Give to yourself in equal measure of what you give to others. There is nothing more damaging to your mental health as the feeling of being depleted by others or the feeling of ingratitude of those taking and not giving back to you. The best way to remedy this, is not to wait on others to return the favour or pay it back/forward. It’s to reward yourself by being good to you. Take a day off, go for a massage and yes retail therapy is actually therapy (within reason). Refocus in rest.

It is always important to step away when you’re feeling stressed. In doing so, however, it’s important not to dwell on the thing stressing you, because then you’re not resting. Rather focus on something that motivates you.

Whenever you take a holiday it’s an absolute change from work. So you’re supposed to come back refreshed, regenerated and ready to face the challenges you left behind. So too with rest, stepping away must also be a stepping to something different. Stepping to nothing only gives you a reprieve from the stress. Stepping to something different gives your mind something different to focus on – perhaps learning a new craft or hobby. You might be learning the very thing that will help you deal with stress in the future. Whatever it is allow it to motivate you, energise you and re-invigorate you.


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