At this time of year more than any other, everyone seems more prone to exhaustion and anxiety. This is true for many of my female clients who are their family "breadwinners." They feel committed to do the best they can at work, but also feel a strong commitment to their families and homes. For instance, at work, we're winding down the year, dealing with annual reviews, and anxiously awaiting bonus news. In our personal lives, we're overloaded with holiday parties and other events, shopping for gifts for loved ones and scheduling time with family. Often, we feel like we don't have a minute to breathe.
Particularly given a wide variety of societal pressures, women often end up putting our own needs last. We are socialized to be the glue in our family units, and now that we have opportunities to rise up in the ranks at work, it can leave little time for ourselves. Our health, our outlook and our overall well-being suffer as a result.
But it's impossible for us to be at our best at work, and for those we care about — to be our best selves — if we don't first care for ourselves.
So how can we fit in meaningful self-care at all times (and perhaps especially during the event-packed holiday season) so that we benefit ourselves, and by extension, all those who depend on us?
Well, here are five easy strategies for breadwinning women to create self-care during any busy time.
1. Carve out ten minutes every morning and every night for personal time.
Even the busiest among us can find ten minutes each morning and evening to sit in stillness. We may choose to practice a few yoga poses, think about a happy memory or image, stretch, make a cup of coffee to enjoy slowly and quietly, or even set an intention for the day ahead or reflect on the day's successes. This precious time is absolutely necessary to recalibrate our stress levels, pump up our immune systems and turn our attention inward to what truly matters.
2. Use your lunch hour to connect with friends.
We all need to feel connected and supported, especially when we're overwhelmed. Time with friends is good self-care. Scheduling a lunch with a friend we haven't seen for some time, or picking up the phone for a quick check-in with a close girlfriend, provides a hit of connection and community that contributes to our well-being, lifts our spirits and reminds us that we are loved.
3. Say no to extraneous events.
Many working women suffer from the belief that there are consequences to saying "no" when we need to. In reality, saying "ye"s to events (and people) to whom we want to say no pushes us out of integrity with what we value and has consequences to our overall happiness. You do not need to attend three parties an evening to get ahead at work, or to satisfy others at the expense of yourself. Say "no" when you want to say "no." It's that simple.
4. Turn off the phone for at least an hour before bed.
Technology management is critical to combating anxiety at this busy time of year. Giving yourself the gift of an hour to disconnect from work and web before bed lessens your stress levels and allows you to sleep more peacefully.
5. Smooch your partner.
Lastly, don't forget to connect with your partner during this busy time. Kissing lowers blood pressure, increases serotonin levels and improves immunity, among other benefits. Remember: pleasure is self-care and so is connection. Showing the love to your partner and all those around you benefits you as well.
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