There is no doubt that roles and the hats that women are wearing are ever changing. Women are not only becoming an important contributor in the workplace, but in politics, society and the global community as well. All of these hats that we wear in our roles and responsibilities can make us a little crazy at times, at least according to researcher David Meyer of the University of Michigan. According to Meyer, multitasking can lead to burnout, anxiety and depression. Not only that but Dr. Don Colbert, author and Christian physician, states that 70% of all doctor’s visits are stress related. So ladies, beware. If you do not take the time for some self-care and life balance, you are not only jeopardizing your overall health and well-being but your influence in the areas that God has called you to make a difference.
Maybe it is time for a little self-examination. How are you doing in the self-care and life balance department? Let me ask you a few questions:
– On a scale of 1 to 10, where is your stress level right now?
– What will happen to you if you continue at this level of stress six months or even one year from now?
– What are your close friends and family saying about you and your schedule?
– When was the last time you really had fun?
– Where do you find it hard to say “no”? What could be keeping you from saying “no”?
Unfortunately, I find that many women that I life and business coach score really low when it comes to self-care and life balance. Too often as women we are great at taking care of everybody else, serving everyone else and placing ourselves last on the list. This can even be true in the workplace. I am not sure this approach is either Biblical or wise.
When we care for everybody else at our own expense, we not only hurt ourselves but we deny others the opportunity to grow, mature and do things they need to do for themselves. More importantly, if we are always giving and giving, then eventually our own personal well is going to run dry. The greatest commandment Jesus gave us was not only to love God with all that we have but to love our neighbors as ourselves. Self-love is definitely in the equation. You matter, your well-being matters and it is most important to God.
So let me offer five strategies to consider to move you in the right direction of self-care and greater life balance.
1. Make Self-Care a Priority. I am not much for a one-size-fits-all prescription. Everyone has different challenges and demands on their time. Certainly single working moms have different challenges than married working moms. Then there are those of us in mid life, sandwiched in between our adult children, our grandchildren and our aging parents who need care. Everyone’s demand of time is different; however, one issue remains the same. If we are going to gain more balance in our life we have to become intentional and make a plan. It has to become a priority or it just will not happen. We really do make time for the things that are important. So why not put yourself on the list and maybe at the top. Put “you” on your calendar, even if it is only for 15 minutes a day. Make an appointment with yourself. An appointment with you is just as important as your son or daughter’s game.
2. Tap into joy. When I ask women what they enjoy doing or what they love doing, they often have a tough time answering me. To me, that is a fairly good indication that they are overworked and overstressed. What lights you up? What makes you smile? What do you love and enjoy doing? What did you do as a child? Find time to play. Find time to have fun and discover the child in you. Give yourself permission to have fun!
3. Learn to say No. You might discover that you like it! What are some things you could do to create some space and some boundaries for yourself? Maybe- “No” to answering the phone at night. “No” to that event you do not want to go to in the first place. No to that committee. You get the idea. It really is okay to sometimes just say “No.” Creating healthy and appropriate boundaries will help you feel better about yourself and a little more in control of your life.
4. Ask for help. Women do not typically like doing this but asking for help not only helps us out and minimizes some of our stress load, but is helpful to others as well. This is especially true in families with children. Responsibility that is spread around can be a good thing for co-workers and even for kids!
5. Live in the moment. I believe there is great value in living in the moment and enjoying each moment. It is the art of being present and aware. Learning how to shut out the to-do lists or tomorrow’s project from our thoughts and just savor the moment of enjoyment or pleasure is not only a helpful exercise in dealing with stress, but really a great way to live.
The great thing about all of these strategies is that they do not have to be expensive or even time consuming. However, they do need to be thoughtful and intentional. When we make the time to give ourselves a little tender loving care, I believe we not only enjoy the ride of life a little more, but we have more to offer to those we are called to influence, our families, our business, our communities and the world.