“Please put your own oxygen mask on first, before assisting others” – I haven’t heard those words for a long time, and I expect most of us would give anything right now to listen to a flight safety briefing!
But even with air travel off the agenda for the time being, the meaning behind the well-worn flight message hold true in the broader world, and particularly as we struggle with continued lockdown.
So this month I wanted to share with you some thoughts on how to master the art of giving – to yourself.
Giving to yourself – it goes against the grain for some people. “Shouldn’t I focus on giving to others?” Of course we want to give to others, but the point of the oxygen mask message is that we simply can’t do that if we’re struggling to breathe ourselves. We have to give ourselves oxygen before we can be of any use to someone else.
Giving to ourselves ensures that we can get through tough times, and be fit and strong enough to support those who need us.
So, with our feet firmly on the ground, and no oxygen masks in sight, what are some of the practical ways that we can give to ourselves? Here’s my seven top tips.
1. Keep it in perspective – when my travel business died virtually overnight, and nearly $1m of bookings simply disappeared as we all locked down, I initially felt that the world had ended. Then I thought about my Dad – he too has his freedoms limited, but in his case, it’s by dementia, and living in a home. The big difference is that I will come out of lockdown and be able to get back on with my life. Dad won’t. I know which situation I’d rather be in. Refusing to get caught up in negativity is giving yourself the gift of perspective and hope.
2. Keep in touch with your support network – it’s tempting, in lockdown, to retreat into your shell and fester in doom and gloom. Instead, give yourself the gift of connection – it’s an amazing energy and mood booster. It could be a walk and talk with a fellow Freshie, meeting a friend at the dog park, a phone call or even an email or message – the point is to stay in touch, share experiences, lift each other’s spirits and laugh.
3. Do something new – it’s been proven that trying new things increases your brain’s creative and problem solving capacity. So try taking an online class, go to a virtual event and meet new people, even get a goldfish or new pot plant and learn how to look after it. Anything new, however small, is giving yourself the gift of a brain-power boost.
4. Stay visible – lockdown is not a time to slip off the radar. Visibility is a gift to ourselves and our businesses. In fact, with online networking most of us can get to more meetings and events than we did before lockdown. Christian Varney of South Yarra took this approach, and visited Prahran recently, and was rewarded with the gift of a new client!
But remember it’s not just about showing up – so give yourself the gift of a strong online presence too – dressed professionally and giving online meetings your undivided attention.
5. Take control of the things you can control – we don’t have a choice about the restrictions on our lives or when they’re going to end. So it’s really important to stop stressing about what we can’t control and give ourselves the gift of doing things we can control. Every day, I go out and get my favourite coffee. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s something I choose to do and also it allows me to give support to another business, have a chat and joke with the owner and set my day up with some positivity.
Fresh member Sasha Dumaresq is an expert on giving yourself the gift of control, and she’ll be sharing her tips in a three part webinar series ‘Finding certainty in an uncertain world’.
6. Brake but don’t stop – we’ve said that giving up networking is not a good approach, but if you need to slow down a little, then give yourself the gift of kindness and don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s ok to put your foot on the brake, but don’t confuse being good to yourself with giving up the major source of your referral business, as you’ll only have to work even harder to recover.
7. Switch to an opportunity mindset – I have seen so many Freshies who have taken this bunch of lemons that the pandemic has thrown at us, and made lemonade. They’ve transformed their businesses, built bigger and stronger networks, created deeper relationships, supported each other, spent time on learning and education and met new and interesting people. Opening your eyes to opportunity is a fantastic gift you can choose to give yourself.
So, don’t wait for your birthday, don’t wait for Christmas, give yourself a big, beautiful gift now. Forget the flowers and choccies, I guarantee that the gifts I’ve suggested will last longer than any of them. They’ll keep you positive, enhance your business and keep you strong enough to help others. Just like that oxygen mask.