This weekend I went for a twilight spa with my best girlfriends at Aqua Sana atCentre Parcs. So much organising needed to be done to make sure it happened, sorting child-care, family commitments, times and locations, who was going to drive, but it was so worth it. As we sat in the various sauna and steam rooms, we felt our inner and outer well-being increase and a release of all of the anxieties and irritations of every day living. Not to mention a good dose of healthy gossip! I know that as a result we went back to our families and friends better people.
Have you noticed any signs recently that things aren’t going right for you as female breadwinner? They could be physical- manifesting in breakouts or hair falling out. Perhaps they are cropping up in your relationship with your partner via heated arguments. Or maybe your work is suffering because you have no time to develop in your career.
Whatever the signals, I have the answer. Investing in your physical, mental and spiritual health is the key to combating all these problems. Before you dismiss this as airy-fairy, hear me out.
When you feel healthy, happy and revitalised doesn’t everyone around you benefit too? Your family, friends and work colleagues – don’t they get lifted by your ambient mood? Compare this to when you are just getting by, stressed and unhappy; snapping at people and feeling overburdened. I know who I’d prefer to live with!
What makes you energised, fulfilled and relaxed? Perhaps you don’t even know anymore because you haven’t thought about it in so long! You might think sacrificing your needs is the only way to make being the main earner in your household work but this is a mistake. Investing in you is a far more effective method.
In my book Rocking Your Role: the ‘how to’ guide to success for female breadwinners I provide a framework based on reflections and actions that can help you to take care of yourself in the present in order to avoid a painful derailment of work and family life later on.
Here are five simple things you can try today:
Enjoy the moment – you can spend a lot of time rushing from one place to the other, but how about enjoying the moments in between? There are gaps of time, when you may be travelling or waiting. I have ninety minutes on Saturday mornings where my daughter is in a class, I love this time and use it to wander around window shopping, read my book or have a coffee and watch the world go by. There are many more sensible things I could do, like the weekly food shop, or catch up on my work, or rush home and clean the house, but I choose to prioritise me during that time and it sets me up for the weekend. When are the moments that you could enjoy?
Stilling the mind – meditation, mindfulness, focusing, yoga, are all great ways of quietening the mind in order to feel a sense of calm and control. If you notice that you are beginning to get irate over small things that wouldn’t have bothered you previously, this is probably what you need. You can invest in audio and video recordings so that you can do this at home, or attend classes. Some coaches, like me, provide enlightenment coaching, which incorporates meditation, to help clients to clear their mind and centre themselves before the talking starts. Most activities can be done in as little as five minutes; the time it takes to make your morning coffee. If you don’t do this, small things will send you off the edge. Meditation, boot camps, spas and dog walks can all help.
Professional and personal development – the process of learning something new will keep you feeling fresh and curious about life. This can be investing in an industry publication, reading books like this one, engaging a coach or mentor, perhaps even attending a training programme or conference. If you are self- employed you have more freedom; schedule a day a quarter for your personal development, whatever that is for you. Alternatively, there is a wealth of material on the internet you can access and a range of online courses that you can engage with at your own pace.
Exercise – getting your heart pumping and your body moving circulates the oxygen around your body and contributes to your sense of happiness as well as health. Build exercise into your life; it doesn’t have to be two hours at the gym each day unless that is what you like to do. It can be walking up the escalator rather than just standing on it, walking in the park, playing on the games console with your children, going cycling as a family, attending yoga classes, dance classes, sport classes like karate, boxing, badminton, purchasing an exercise machine or just a skipping rope or hula hoop. The list is endless and as easy as you want to make it.
Eat well – a good combination of healthy and nutritious food is important to keep your body and mind processing at its best. Even if you are in a rush, there are many healthy options available to you, like good soups packed with nutrients and energy packed salads. Don’t overdo the stimulants like coffee and alcohol which will adversely affect your metabolism. There’s nothing wrong with treats, just try to take the healthy option 80% of the time.
You might think by appearing to be coping you are bolstering women kind – showing the world that women aren’t meek and unreliable. But you are putting a burden on yourself and the generation of female breadwinners that are following your lead. This façade will set them up to fail because it is impossible to accomplish – something has to give when you are trying to do it all.
If you want future female main earners to have a good sense of well-being, to feel physically and mentally healthy then you should place these things high on the agenda for yourself.
So take care and relish the difference it makes to your world. Let me know how you get on.
I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author or Rocking Your Role – the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. Find out more about me, my programmes, speaking engagements and training at rockingyourrole.com