Putting Your Mask on First

By Kelly Braun
International School of Sacred Heart, Tokyo


We’ve all heard the announcement. It comes after learning how to fasten our seatbelts for the millionth time, just before we’re told where our floatation devices are located beneath our seats:

“Oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, like this. Pull the strap to tighten it. If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.”

We’ve all been there, sitting in the airplane seat and wondering how much longer you have to pretend to listen until we can get to our movie or book. We hear it over and over, the same thing, the same message, but when we sit back and listen, do we actually hear it?

“Make sure your own mask is on first before helping your children.”

It’s this time of year where I have to remind myself that it’s not just on an airplane that I need to take care of myself first, and then my students, but at work too. We get to this point in the typical school year every year, it’s not close enough to the winter holiday, but it’s too far away from our last break. Half of our students have submitted early apps, making those students who haven’t submitted their regular apps feel behind, and the results that are expected to come in a few weeks are becoming stressful because what if I fail at life and don’t get in?! On the admission side, you’ve been traveling for weeks straight and just want to sleep in your own bed, only to walk into a stack of applications that need to be read for the December 15 decision release date and all you really want to do is eat home cooked food in a kitchen that isn’t supplied only with tea and coffee.

We’re there. In the doldrums of November and those of you who get US Thanksgiving, count yourself lucky. If you do or don’t, how do we manage all of this? Between our job stress and the stress of our students, the pressure to finish everything by the winter holiday seems like it can just be too much. More than one person can handle, anyway. Enter: Self care. Putting your mask on first.

We’ve heard that announcement on every single flight we’ve ever taken, and for those million milers--that’s a lot. It’s one of the announcements and wisdom that we can take with us, taking care of ourselves before we can take care of others. The flotation device announcement may come in handy sometimes too, can you see my blinking light? I’m just above water over here.  

How do you put on your mask first? What are your tips for self care during this time of year?  Let us know in the comments below.