Self-Care for Supervisors: Thank You for Flying Self-Care Air

While frequent airline fliers are probably immune to pre-flight safety announcements, less seasoned travelers probably pay attention to them, and maybe, even disagree with one in particular. When the flight attendant says “In case of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks above your seat will deploy, please place the mask on yourself first and then assist your child or other passengers”, for those of you who have young children or grandchildren, doesn’t this instruction disturb you? Of course it does. It is anathema to your understanding of being a good parent – that is, always put your child’s safety first. And somehow putting that oxygen mask on yourself while a young helpless, frightened, and confused child sits next to you just screams out that child saying “you don’t love me”. The truth of the matter is you can lose consciousness in as little as twenty seconds in such a situation and so to best assure yours and your child(ren)’s safety, you put it on first. This example points out the importance and need for self-care. If you do not take care of yourself, there will be a time when you will not be able to take care of others.

Consider your role as a supervisor/manager/leader in the workplace. As a supervisor you have two competing audiences for your time and attention, your direct reports and your boss. A dedicated supervisor tends to place the needs of those two audiences first, thinking self sacrifice is a must, always; it is what a good supervisor does. That can lead to you working longer hours, postponing or cancelling vacations, dropping what you are doing when the boss or staff calls. Over time you may find you are missing your kids growing up, experience family strife, job dissatisfaction, burnout, physical and emotional ailments.

For many supervisors who do try to practice good self-care, they can experience guilt and start doubting their ability to be a supervisor, and stop taking care of themselves. For some supervisors, just being aware of the importance of self-care may be enough to do so guilt free. But for some, perhaps many, accepting the importance of self-care and practicing good self care habits will take time and practice. To learn more about self-care, why many find it hard to accept and practice and to learn 12 easy yet powerful Steps to good self care, read Chapter 15 of “Being a supervisor 1.0” by Joseph F. Duffy, available from, Barnes and Noble, or The Book Depository.

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