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Take Care of Yourself


Credit: Miikka, Flickr

Credit: Miikka, Flickr

Before take-off, the safety demonstration video advises that you are to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

Good advice.

Then why is it that HR pros are so reluctant to help themselves, first?

A few years ago I was speaking with a VP of HR who told me that the goal of their HR team was to provide a high level of service to free up their operations team to do what they do best.  Essentially she said that that meant that the HR team was 24/7 and had no life.  She was unapologetic.  And over the years, I’ve seen many a good HR folk come and go there.

If you want great culture, or more aptly, you want to sustain your great culture, then you need your ambassadors, your spokespersons to project that culture.  That means HR.  They can’t do that if they aren’t healthy.

Mentally healthy.

Physically healthy.

Not flustered or distracted.

Wearing their oxygen masks.

Ok, 90% of the readers of this blog are in HR, so I’m talking to you.  If you aren’t healthy, get that way.  Here are some tips to improve your health.

Get more sleep.  Nothing is more dangerous than a tired HR person.  Unexpected things happen all the time, even in well-run organizations.  You need to be alert at all times.  Whether this means banning your smartphone from your bedroom, deciding to turn off the TV at 10:00 p.m., or arriving refreshed at the office at 8:30 rather than 7:00 a.m., do what you need to do to get enough sleep.

Eat better.  I recently tried a meal plan.  This meant for an entire week I ate dishes that were selected to go together, like Garanimals.  I had to make every dish from scratch.  While this wasn’t easy, I definitely felt better and actually became interested in the ingredients.  The best part was because lunch was organized the night before, I had very little prep during the day and even had an opportunity to eat lunch during lunchtime without having to introduce a restaurant into the mix.  One day I even doubled the recipe I was making and brought lunch to a client’s place to share.

Get your heart rate up.   In my adult life I have not been much of an exerciser, but in the last two years I’ve really worked on getting in a little exercise every single day.  I’ve also found I’m best when I’m combining a little exercise with some outdoors experience.

Disassociate.    All HR, all the time makes for a really dull HR professional.  Make the effort to find other interests.  This could be colouring, or photography, or ornithology or coding.  It is amazing what happens to what you do most when you try and combine it with other interests.  I think I am becoming a better writer because I have started to think about visual messaging, getting away from traditional print.

Don’t let a short-term problem become a long-term habit.    Monitor your busyness.  Crunches happen all the time but if it becomes a regular occurrence it is time to reorganize your approach to work.  No one will do this for you so it is incumbent that you do it for yourself.

Ultimately, don’t sacrifice.  You can’t be great if you delay putting on that mask.


  1. Hi Bonni,

    I really enjoyed your article and I do agree that it’s important as HR Professionals to take care of ourselves. To many people make excuses for not taking care of themselves and live to regret it. I always make an effort to take care of myself and it makes a difference in my HR work.

    To add to your article, I think time is precious and who you spend it with will also affect your HR work. I think it’s better to have less friends, better quality. I’m a better HR Professional because I limit my time around toxic people (family included) and maximize my time around people who CHOOSE to be optimistic, hopeful and determined. When I help them and they help me, we lift each other up, especially in the face of adversity.

    I hope you find my comments helpful.

    Thank you and have a great day!

    Caren Sexton 🙂

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