From the time we were kids, we women have been taught that we can have it all. Family, career, hobbies, and interests should all fit neatly into the 24-hour day and 7-day workweek. As empowered women, we thrive on challenges and set lofty goals, sometimes to our own peril. Because along with all that self-actualizing comes a growing sense of anxiety and mental distress.
The reality is, attempting to shove all our passionate pursuits into our waking hours may be biting off more than we can realistically chew. At some point during the day, we realize we are way behind on a work project, late to pick up our kids from soccer practice, forgot to pay the rent, and haven't cooked a meal for the family for weeks. An unrelenting list of demands threatens to sabotage any hope of going to the gym or getting a manicure, much less signing up for that cooking class you've been wanting to take.
Amazingly, some women seem to be gifted in the area of time management. They, too, hold down a demanding job and have a family, but for some reason, they seem to exude a sense of serenity and peace as they wind smoothly through their days. What gives? What do those women know that others desperately need to figure out?
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Managing a busy life while maintaining sanity is indeed a skill that can be learned. Even when it seems hopeless, that there is simply no way you can keep up with all of life's demands, how reassuring it is to learn that by accessing some wellness tools it is possible to achieve that work-life balance.
As successful women, recognize that each day offers us countless opportunities to tackle amazing challenges, and to overcome them. How best to accomplish this will depend on your priorities. Are you placing your own mental health first? If not, that is the first change to make. What good are you to your children, your spouse, or your boss if you are constantly on the verge of a breakdown, right?
Think about ways you can put mental wellness at the top of your priority list. In fact, make a list and write at the top "My Wellness," and below that you can list everything else that is important to you: My Children, My Spouse, My Job, My Hobbies. Now let's look at ways to promote your mental wellness so that a healthy balance will emerge from the chaos.
6 Ways Successful Women Strike a Balance Between Work and Wellness
1) Pay yourself first.
This simply means that no one benefits if you give 110% to everyone else and end up depleted, sick, and depressed. Attend to your own mental health by incorporating habits that strengthen and soothe you. This means scheduling regular exercise or workouts into your week. Literally schedule them. Take the time to fix healthy meals instead of processed grab 'n go fast foods. Nutrition and exercise needs to become a top priority in order to balance the stressful demands of career and family.
2) Learn how to relax.
Have some go-to stress-reducing practices at your fingertips when you feel yourself begin to hyperventilate during a particularly crazy day. Use deep breathing exercises at will, any time of the day, to immediately lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and diffuse stress. Have a yoga video handy on your computer or tablet to fit a 30-minute session in, and access apps on your phone for plugging into guided meditation. Mindfulness training is a powerful tool for refocusing your energy on the present when your mind wants to race.
3) Make a to-do list.
Start each day with a game plan. Doing this will help reduce stress and create some order in your universe. All you need is a paper and pen (or phone app) to jot down tasks, appointments, and reminders. This practice helps immensely in parsing out the hours and helping you realize when you are overcommitted. When that happens just pick up the phone and change an appointment or cancel an event that is not absolutely necessary. Manage your time and prioritize for better mental health.
4) Improve communication.
Instead of holding all your stress and worries inside your own head, learn how to strategically communicate your needs. Too often women become overwhelmed and stretched way too thin. We try to buck up and handle everything. Meanwhile, the stress is bubbling up and we become short-tempered and irritable with everyone around us. Try asking for some assistance - at work and at home. Sure, it would be great if everyone could read our minds, know our needs, and just jump in and help, but in most cases, we have to learn how to ask when we simply cannot manage the burden.
5) Improve sleep quality.
If there is just one thing you do to improve your overall wellness it is getting good sleep. Daily stress can take a toll on us, keeping cortisol levels high, which negatively impacts our immune system. Lack of sleep causes concentration problems, fatigue, memory problems, and foul moods. Make getting a good night's sleep a priority by avoiding caffeine after 3 pm; avoiding meals after 7 pm; putting the phone, laptop, or tablet away one hour before bedtime, and practicing relaxation techniques to aid in winding down before bedtime.
6) Stoke your passions.
Include time in your week to participate in an activity that inspires you. Whether it be journaling, taking an art class, joining a hiking club, or singing in a choir, just do something that makes your soul soar. All work and no play does indeed make us dull and one-dimensional, so incorporate something fun, new, or interesting into your life to find true balance.
It is possible for women to have it all - to enjoy a thriving professional life while keeping a sound mind. Prioritize mental wellness and see how it will positively impact all other areas of your life.
About the Author
Marissa Katrin Maldonado has been working in the behavioral healthcare industry for over 12 years. She is the founder of The Treatment Specialist
, a national online resource and helpline for those seeking treatment for addiction and mental health conditions. Dedicated to guiding individuals to the help they seek, Marissa believes that with the right support and guidance, those struggling will have the opportunity to turn their lives around and enjoy a healthy and happy life. She is a proud mother and wife and enjoys long-distance running, traveling, and music.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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