As working women, we’ve all had those mornings where our stress levels are off the charts before we even start work. Whether it’s from a sleepless night worrying over the presentation you need to make the next afternoon, caring for a sick child, managing the household chores, or that early morning call from a client or customer with a problem that disrupts your planned schedule, it’s not a great way to start the day.
Put these everyday stressors on top of the massive change we have experienced over the last 14 months from the pandemic, as well as social, political, and financial issues, and the risks of that continued stress start to mount. Stress is not just an outcome of change or a negative shift in our environment; positive stress affects our overall health, too.
According to the CDC, levels of stress-related illness are nearly twice as high for women compared to men. Job stress has been linked with heart disease, muscle/bone disorders, depression, and burnout. Balancing work and family tasks can put additional stress on women, who, in many families, still take primary responsibility for childcare, eldercare, and household management.
Focusing on Self-Care and Well-Being
National Women’s Health Month serves as a good reminder to working women everywhere to make their health a priority and to build positive health habits for life.
We can all learn from the safety message on every airline in the world: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose first before assisting others.” Women typically are great at caring for others first and ourselves last—if at all.
As we take a moment to reflect on our own mental, physical, and emotional health during this special recognition month, let’s think about some of the simple things we can try to improve our own self-care and well-being.
- Do a deep breathing exercise—even during a Zoom call. Take in a deep breath for a count of four; hold that breath 4, 3, 2, 1… breathe out 4, 3, 2, 1… and rest 4, 3, 2, 1… Repeat three times for an instant refresh.
- If you don’t feel well, don’t sit silently. Check your company’s health benefits for help, visit an urgent care center, or talk with your doctor.
- When you’re feeling stressed, take a quick five-minute walk and mentally leave the stressor at the door. You can even refuse to pick the stressor back up when you come back in the door. It’s a great mind trick to relieve the pressure.
- If you need a mood boost, go stand in the sunshine, plant your feet firmly on the ground (even if you are sitting on a bench), feel the breeze on your face, and focus on the natural or architectural beauty all around you. That little extra dose of Vitamin D from the sun really helps brighten the day.
- Build new or perhaps refresh old relationships at work to improve your mental health. It helps you feel more valued and increases the positivity in your work environment.
- Delegating and allowing others to contribute helps take the burden off you, too.
- With constant change swirling around us, it’s also helpful to assess your personal reaction to change and how resilient you are.
DOWNLOAD the Personal Reaction to Change Assessment and use it —both personally and with team members—to improve change resilience. I hope you find it as valuable as I did.
Wishing you all the best in your self-care journey! And remember: Don’t just focus on your health during May. Your health matters all year round!
Post author Karen Gorman finds reward in achievement. But, unlike many with that characteristic, Karen differs in that she feels most fulfilled when her accomplishments benefit those around her, whether that be a cause, a person or an organization.
As ALULA’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen believes her principal responsibility is to define, model and advance a culture that ensures the business and people thrive in a dynamic, quickly evolving marketplace. Her greatest motivation is contributing to the success of others fueled by an innate professional need to provide ongoing and increasing value to the entire organization, clients and shareholders.