Women in the Workplace—is that the Office or Home???

For most of us, it’s both.

Women today do it all…contribute to the family finances, in some cases as the sole provider; nurture their children, partners, and extended family members; take care the house, which may include shopping, preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, or minor repairs; help with homework; talk with teachers; soothe hurt feelings and broken hearts; walk the dog; empty the cat litter box; write out the bills (all the while balancing the family budget); and mow the lawn in summer. While there may be a family effort exerted for these daily living tasks, much of the coordination, if not the effort itself, is left to the woman of the household.

Given all the energy women devote to household/family needs, how is it that we find time for success within our work life? Because we must. Whether we go to work full time or part time, at an executive or laborer level, love our work or just tolerate it, women give as much of themselves to their job as they do to their family and home.

That brings me to my point: What’s left over? Where is the energy or the time for our pleasures, our personal pursuits, or our self-nurturing? Yes, we derive pleasure from our family and work successes and challenges, but is that enough? NO, it is not!

We need balance in our lives. This is easier said than done, yes, but it can be done. Finding balance is a practiced skill, meaning that it must be practiced to become familiar. As working women, our path has been obscured by our sense of obligation to others, so that we can no longer see the way to care for ourselves. This is evident on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.

Balance incorporates three key components: relaxation or a quieting of the mind, eating foods that are health sustaining, and engaging in some type of physical activity. The quieting of the mind is the most important aspect of this balance. The relaxation achieved from this quieting can have a tremendous positive affect on your physical and emotional health. Give yourself permission to take just one, or three, or six minutes a day to sit and breathe is all I am suggesting. These quiet moments of breathing will decrease the adrenaline inflammation that is present because of hectic schedules, will allow you to let go of negative self talk that may be a part of your inner dialogue, can lower your blood pressure, and will rejuvenate depleted energy. Scientific studies have shown that adults are able to choose healthy behaviors much more consistently when a routine relaxation effort is put forth. Sitting quietly and breathing changes your brain chemistry in a positive manner to allow new information to be learned. This then becomes central to learning to embrace healthful behaviors.

The types of foods we choose are impacted by our sense of calm versus chaos. If the day is hectic, it is more likely that fast food may be the choice for dinner. If calm and quiet are present in your decision making, you may pursue a family cooking night when everyone helps chop, sauté, spice, broil, and mix so that you have the ultimate pleasure of enjoying the family prepared meal together. Fast foods or foods that are micro-waved are often from processed ingredients that have less nutritional value than the fresher version. The additives in packaged foods cause inflammation inside the body. There is certainly a place for fast food in our lives, but when it becomes the norm instead of the exception, not only is physical health compromised, but our emotional beings are not well fed either.

No one nowadays will dispute the benefits of being physically active. But who has time for it? The good news is that there are ways to bring in routine activity without going to a gym or taking time away from other responsibilities. Find ways to move throughout the day—take the stairs, park at the far end of the lot, go outdoors for a quick walk on your lunch break, stretch your neck and shoulders while you are at your desk, do some squats as you stand at the copy machine at work…get creative about moving your body! After work or on the weekends, you can share activity with family and/or friends. Regular activity allows for the release of “feel good” hormones, which will increase energy and sense of emotional wellbeing.

The working woman will greatly benefit from finding balance throughout the day. Love your family well, work efficiently and effectively, nurture yourself, eat healthful foods—these simple but intentional choices are each worthy of being part of your daily routine.

Robin Mallery is a Registered Nurse, specializing in optimal lifestyle management. Her consulting business is called HeartMatters.

This article was written for and posted on the Business and Professional Women’s website: www.bpwusa.org

"When my husband of 34 years died I lost my interest in cooking.  Instead I began relying on quick frozen organic entrees and dinners. After three years I decide to improve the quality of my diet, so I contacted Robin Mallery. Robin helped me create a more nourishing and healthful diet that took my busy teaching and consulting schedule into consideration.

It was a joy to work with Robin. She is knowledgeable, supportive, intuitive, and warm.  I highly recommend her as a Heart Healthy Coach.

Through lifestyle counseling, the sharing of her delicious and healthy family recipes, and an informative and fun "field trip" to a local whole food market, I have shifted to an eating plan that is healthy, delicious, and swiftly prepared. The key to swift and healthy meal preparation for me has been Robin's 90-minute Sunday afternoon food prep model, a strategy that assures quick and delicious high quality meals throughout the week. I consider my leisurely Sunday afternoon food preparation time as self-indulgent "me" time, and enjoy chopping, baking, and sauteing against the backdrop of classical music and a glass of wine.  I also love the fact that a nutritious and delicious dinner is ready when I walk through the door every night of my work week.  It's as if I finally have that personal chef I have always coveted, only it's me!"  ---Patricia J., Nevada City

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