Put Yourself First

Are you too busy to put yourself first? If a plane loses oxygen pressure for any reason, oxygen masks will drop down from a small overhead compartment. If the oxygen masks come down in a plane and you have children, you are always advised to put yours on first before helping your children.

Why? Because you are in a better position to help your children put their masks on if you are not struggling for air.

I have noticed that when I am calm and relaxed it is much easier to deal with anything that life throws at me, and to become calm I have often needed to put myself first, often by saying no.

When I am tired or stressed, I am rarely very effective. Time out is vital as it allows us to recharge our batteries. It is similar to running a car without regular service and maintenance - it will inevitably break down one day, usually at the most inconvenient time. If you are tired or stressed, you won't have the patience or the energy to be able to give much to anyone else.

Taking care of ourselves and putting our priorities first may feel selfish to you. But if you are running on empty, what will you have left to give others? If you are burned out, stressed and overloaded, what will be left of you to share? You cannot give away what you don't have. When we put ourselves first and do what we need to do to stay healthy and vibrant, we have more to give to other people and tasks.

Make a list of activities you can do daily that will give your mind and body a break and help to renew your energy. If you need inspiration, magazines and newspapers have ideas almost every week. You may have previously ignored them as you thought you didn't have time, or you were so busy looking after everyone else.

Take a break

If you are doing something that is really frustrating you need to take a break - step away from the situation. The more stressed you are, the less likely you are to be effective in solving a problem. In the past I have often been stuck on something, thinking that I will solve the problem while I am sitting at my desk. I rarely do.

How long is it since you took a break at work? The value of stepping away from work is that you come back more refreshed and see things in a different way. And with a calmer mind you will find it easier to focus, not on 101 things you haven't done, but on one thing, which you can handle. When you return, refocus by asking the question, What do I need to get done in the next hour?

Get walking

I read so many articles telling me how good exercise is for my health - I know that and so do you, I am sure. Exercise is wonderfully distracting; it's actually very difficult to think about your problems while exercising! Just 15 minutes is enough to unfreeze your brain so you gain a different perspective.

Carolyn Matheson is a nationally recognized Coach, Speaker and Author of "Yes to Less Stress."

Carolyn is a Master Certified Coach, and works with executives and their teams across the world. She has pioneered an innovative approach to coaching, combining many years of high performance coaching with a holistic approach to work/life balance and has coached hundreds of leaders and their teams. Her experience as a presenter, both nationally and internationally, spans 20 years, with clients currently in Europe, Australia, the Middle and Far East, and the USA.

Her book, Yes to Less Stress is available online from http://www.areustressed.com

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