By Dr. Kellie Sanders and Dr. Kristine Servais
Many professional women feel immense pressure to manage their own lives, careers, and family. Research has shown that women today are less happy than they have been over the past 40 years. As daughters, sisters, friends, wives, and mothers, there are many responsibilities to be balanced. Unfortunately, most women fail to keep a good balance for themselves and keep taking from themselves without giving anything back. This blog is intended to help women improve self-care and to be aware of the comprehensive damage of hurriedness on overall health.
Self-care isthe practice of improving one’s health, well-being, and overall happiness. Oftentimes women struggle daily with self-care, suggesting the perfect metaphor of the inflight oxygen-mask instructions: “Be sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first in order to be able to care for others.” Here are several strategies to help women prioritize themselves and their mental and physical wellness.
- Self-care is a necessity. Self-care can be any activity that strengthens you physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, or spiritually. The concept of taking control of your needs and making yourself a priority is not selfish.
- Learn to love yourself. It is important to reassure and find ways to love yourself—physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.
- Create a support system. Do your friends and family empower and uplift you? If not, consider telling them how important it is to feel supported. Your environment and the people in it should be positive motivators in your life.
- Set healthy boundaries. How many times have you said “yes” or “sure” to a request when you didn’t have the time or energy to help? Sometimes you might feel guilty for prioritizing yourself, but setting boundaries is taking control of your life. Learn to say “no” to people for the sake of self-care.
- Plan around you. In your busy day-to-day activities, it is important to schedule time for self-care. This will create a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, and it will be reflected in your relationships.
Unfortunately, one of the most negative impacts on the physical and mental health of most people today is described as hurry sickness. Hurry sickness is not an actual medical condition but rather a term that was coined in 1985 in the book Type A Behavior and Your Heart to describe an overwhelming sense of excessive time urgency. Symptoms may be “irritability, hypersensitivity, restlessness, workaholism, emotional numbness, out-of-order priorities, lack of self-care, escapist behaviors, slippage of spiritual disciplines, and isolation” (Comer, 2019). Examples of hurried sickness include moving from one checkout line to another because it looks shorter/faster, counting cars in front of you to get to the shorter/faster lane, and excessive multitasking to the point of forgetting one of the tasks. These examples, and many solutions to hurried sickness, can be found in The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World by John Mark Comer. Comer provides practical and long-term solutions to live a less hurried and stressful life.
Ways to eliminate and reduce hurry sickness begins with good self-care. Positive efforts to reduce hurriedness is to slow down your body and you will slow down your life, walk slower, keep a journal, and breathing exercises such as breathing in positive and breathing out negative. Additional suggestions are to set time limits on social media, arrive ten minutes before the start of a meeting or appointment, and be keenly aware of the source of your hurried moments.
Most women need to improve their self-care, rest, and fitness. Spend some time alone to think about your needs and think about ways to meet those needs. Take an interest in hobbies or things you enjoy like read a book, get a massage, join a gym, or take a walk that will help improve your overall well-being and the long-term ability to care for others.
Consider the following questions for reflection or a discussion with a colleague or friend.
- Even though this blog focuses on women, men play a vital role in supporting their women colleagues and women who may reside in their household. If you are a male reading this blog, what specific things can you do to support the women in your life and what can you do to alleviate some of these issues?
- Women frequently struggle with issues of stress. While some amount of stress can be normal, excessive stress can create physical illness and dysfunction. Describe the degree to which you are presently experiencing stress. How do you respond to stress in your life? What advice would you give women leaders to better manage stress?
- Getting adequate sleep is a significant factor to short- and long-term health. To what degree do you ensure that you are getting the sleep necessary to function well on a daily basis? What actions could you take to improve getting the sleep you need?
- Consider your support system. Who among your family and friends provide support to your life and allow you to better attend to your professional and personal needs? What would you suggest that women can do to create stronger support systems?
- Consider the significance of hurriedness in your life. Share examples. What strategies might help you to manage the stress of time and hurriedness in your home life? Professional life?
- Women are often challenged to setboundaries. Part of self-care is setting boundaries to take better control of your life and learning to say “no” to people. Share an example of a time when you did not appropriately set a boundary for yourself. Share a time when you successfully set a boundary. What advice would you give others in setting healthy boundaries?
- Establishing a work-life balance by women leaders is often determined by setting priorities. Where do you presently place your self-care among your priorities? What advice would you give to a close friend who is constantly hurried, stressed, making poor decisions, and emotionally drained?
- Watch: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
- Review: Hurry Sickness – 10 Ways to Overcome Constant Panic and Rush
- Read: 8 Reasons Why Women Need Limits and Boundaries and Self Care
As a result of reading this blog, what commitments will you make to further the development of self-care and reducing hurriedness in your professional and personal life. Consider inviting a close friend to serve as an accountability partner to improve the quality of your mental and physical health. And take the time to check out the resources provided for you in this blog. They are worth your time as life-changing ideas.
Servais and Sanders are the cofounders of Lifeline for Courageous Leadership.