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

"After thirty years of eating healthy foods and participating in regular, vigorous exercise, I was astounded to discover I have Coronary Artery Disease. In March of 2010, I had two stents placed in my Left Anterior Descending Artery- this was big. I consulted Robin Mallery, RN, knowing she is a local expert on Cardiac Rehabilitation. I especially respected her lifestyle of nutrition and physical fitness. Robin’s reassurance that I was doing many things correctly, and her instructions on how to fine-tune my program to deal with this life-threatening disease, was invaluable. Robin’s exquisite grasp of balancing traditional medicine with diet, exercise, relaxation and fun has helped me through this medical crisis". --Maiya Gralia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and cross-country ski instructor and coach

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