Emerge and Spread Your Wings

Mask Fully In Place?

What is the state of your mask?

While it is topical at the moment, and I am not intending to be glib towards a serious issue for our essential workers, I am not referring to PPE – personal protective equipment. Instead, I am reminding you of the old adage of putting on your own oxygen mask first.

Many of those in the helping professions are on the front line of New Zealand’s COVID 19 response. You are in the unique position of supporting your clients, while each of you faces your own personal reality of financial pressure, isolation, the risk to your health, working from home in a very different way than ever before. The scale of the effects on individuals is huge.

More than ever, I believe the message of managing your own wellbeing in your work “slash” home life is critical. This is not the time to forget any of the strategies you utilised in your “BC” work lives to maintain your resilience. In talking to many of my supervisees over the past 12 days since the escalation of our alert levels was announced, it is clear there is a wide range of personal experiences, but that people are beginning to make adjustments to their new normal. It is time to reflect on how you can reincorporate any self-care and wellbeing strategies that have been disrupted or modify them for your current work life.

Here are some ideas

  • Boundaries – Where is it possible to start to build healthy boundaries around your work? For instance, when is it reasonable to reply to messages outside of your normal work hours? Are you operating your phone as an “open all hours” service or can it be switched off at times? Are you taking regular time away from work breaks? Are you finding time to reduce distractions to maximise your productivity, while being kind to yourself and realistic about what you can accomplish? Do you need to reassert your boundaries around social media, with so much more of your work being online-based? The country is calling loudly for its “helpers” and “carers” to step forward, but it is crucially important that we help from a sustainable position. Setting healthy boundaries for yourselves is even more important than ever. You can’t give from an empty cup.


  • Self Care – physical, mental, spiritual, social. Do you have the capacity to add new self-care rituals, or maintain or modify your existing ones? Suddenly the ability to go for a walk outside is feeling like freedom to me, rather than a “should do exercise”. Can you recreate some of your community-based self-care activities such as hobbies or socialising in a new way, instead of missing out on the connection?


  • Connection – What is your need or capacity for connection? Beyond your bubble who are you in regular contact with? I am part of an international business group with members in North America. it has been a great source of support as they are a few weeks ahead in their response to the virus, so have some great ideas. Do you have colleagues who are in similar positions who might be a source of support? However be conscious to limit connection, where possible, with those who do not have a supportive approach. Scaremongering is highly unhelpful at this time.



  • Support Systems – Where you feel the need, seek out official or unofficial support systems  – EAP, Phone counseling, Financial advice, Professional organisations, peer groups, supervision, and all your personal support networks.

This is the time to take stock of your own personal needs, find a sense of stability, reapply strategies, and call on your support system, before you step out into the world to help others – oxygen mask fully in place.

If you need more support with your work wellbeing in these shifting times contact me here…