For decades we have been instructed: In the event the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. Put your mask on first before trying to help children or others who need assistance with their masks.
Makes sense: stay conscious, stay helpful.
Outside of planes, we do the opposite of the mask yourself first policy. We put and keep ourselves in moderate to extreme lack of awareness and limited helpfulness by driving ourselves, way, way too much. Besides driving ourselves by doing too much, working too long, and keeping ourselves immersed in problems, we put ourselves absolutely last. We suffer from lack of oxygen, too. We lose our brains to overwork and over focus which spins off: anxiety, crabbiness, exhausted ideas coming from exhausted brains, and rote work produced by tired bodies.Putting our bodies and brains last, is exactly how we approach our lives. Gut your way through things, nose to the grindstone, keep on going.
How to Put Your Mask on First
We have to teach ourselves that one of the best ways to help people and to tackle our projects is to rest. Rest is not unrelated to productivity, creativity, and responsibility. Let me repeat that: rest is not unrelated to productivity, creativity, and responsibility. Rest and Recovery is one side of the coin with the other side showing Work and Fatigue. Our brains and bodies understand this, we’ve got to have both to be healthy or at least to remain alive. One coin, two sides.
Creativity and Rest and Recovery – One of the oldest approaches to creativity matches nose to the grindstone work to rest and recovery. The first step is working hard to load up the brain with facts, figures, options, opinions, and whatever else is related to the problem or issue at hand. Once that load is up to eyeballs, the second crucial step is not more work followed by more work but….a walk in the park, a nap, play, listening to music, shopping, washing the dog, anything to disengage. We do whatever it takes to get out of our own way by “forgetting” our troubles/project. Percolating under the surface is part of our minds that takes all of the crammed in materials and does its sort of alchemy. What happens when we get our nose off the grindstone? We get breakthroughs! Aha! We get a creative boast from combining work with Rest and Recovery. (See: Creative Breakthroughs: Tapping the Power of the Unconscious Mind, Amazon link)
Learning and Sleep as Rest and Recovery – We have the vision drummed into our heads that if we aren’t working we are lazy, irresponsible, degenerate, and backsliding. Hogwash. Night-time sleep and daytime naps consolidate learning and shift it from short term memory to long term memory (See: Take a Nap! Change Your Life, Amazon link)
Play, Positive Times, and Hanging Out with People as Rest and Recovery – Taking time to make friends and to contact friends strengthens us and it puts us right into the field of effect of Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build theory. The theory and supporting studies show that when we are positive (from play, humor, optimism) we are more creative, open to seeing and exploring options, and more open to helping others). Positive uplift often comes in the company of others, not water cooler sort of complaint sessions but time well spent with true friends.
These are just three areas of Rest and Recovery and each provides benefits for our minds and bodies and have the spin-off effect of making us sharper and more capable of facing and working our projects and problems. Extensive is the evidence that Rest and Recovery is related to productivity, creativity, and responsibility.
Step 1: Clean-up Your Beliefs/Get Your Philosophy Right – Really look at the notion of not being engaged on something 24/7. This includes not ruminating, not planning, not talking, not wondering about some hot project or personal matter 100% of the time. It will take self-challenge to see that to rest up or to take regular breaks and disengaging is not: sloppy, traitorous, unkind, missing opportunities, overlooking something. Can you take 20 minutes today to be disengaged, in heart and mind? If yes, do it and do it again tomorrow and the next day. Get ever better at strategic disengagement. If you do this long enough you will discover: it feels good, it is not as hard to do as you first thought, and you find the power of bounce back.
Step 2: Adhere to the basics – 15 minutes of aerobic exercise per day; 15 minutes of meditation per day; and high quality and high quantity sleep (no skimping here – 6.5 to 8 hours).
Step 3: At least one activity with friends per week with no special focus on: worry, justifying some action, complaining, planning, etc. Simply be with friends, explore, play, share.
That’s a good beginning.