As working women, we often run ourselves ragged. We’re so focused on meeting the needs of others – our husbands, children, or elderly parents – that we neglect our own needs. We put ourselves last! If we continue to do this, we won’t have anything left to give others.
Think of yourself as a resource, like a savings account. You want to do everything you can to increase, not deplete it. Anytime you expend energy, you make a withdrawal. When you replenish yourself, you make a deposit. So why not make automatic deposits by renewing yourself on a regular basis? The greatest asset we can invest in is ourselves.
What renews and refreshes you? It’s very personal. For me, it’s playing tennis, hiking, or reading a Danielle Steel novel. For another, it may be listening to classical music or attending a play. For you, it might be a hot bubble bath or a massage.
The Four Dimensions
We need to take care of ourselves not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We need to renew and refresh ourselves in each of these four dimensions.
The physical dimension involves caring for our bodies – getting enough rest and relaxation, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and exercising on a regular basis.
Often busy working women don’t take time out to exercise. I often hear, “I don’t have the time or energy to exercise.” Here’s a tip that worked for me. Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to get more steps in the day. When I’ve been working at my computer awhile and am ready for a break, I’ll take a short walk outside. Whenever I go anywhere I’ll park farther away and walk the extra steps. Whatever you do, make it fun. If you don’t like your workouts, you won’t stick with it. Choose something you enjoy. If it’s dance, try taking a Zumba Fitness® class. If you have a dog, then take your dog for a walk each day. You’ll be amazed at how invigorated you’ll feel.
The mental dimension involves activities that keep your mind sharp. Reading classic literature will stretch and improve your mind. If you enjoy writing, then consider filling up a journal with your thoughts and insights, or write letters/emails to friends and family. If you like puzzles, there are numerous types to stimulate the mind – Sudoku, crossword puzzles, mind teasers… My sister starts each day with a cup of coffee and her crossword puzzle.
The emotional dimension involves activities that bring you joy or peace of mind. What brings you joy, delight, pleasure? Many of us enjoy the social connection – spending time, conversing and laughing, with our family or good friends. For others it’s a hobby or a creative outlet like painting or quilting, art or music. I have a friend who finds her spirit soaring when she strolls through art museums.
The spiritual dimension is very personal; it involves connecting with your sense of meaning and purpose. It could be God, peace or nature. It may involve attending church or synagogue, praying or meditating. It might be reading inspirational books, literature that touches your soul. Singing and worshiping are ways we get in touch with our spiritual dimension. And nature is a spiritual source for many. By getting away from the city and hiking out in nature, people can connect with creation.
Be sure to renew yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. By doing so, you’ll have more energy to invest in others. You’ll become a better wife, mother, friend, and employee.
Do you take a vacation from work each year? More and more U.S. workers are forgoing vacation time. Many people put off taking a vacation and one day realize that they haven’t had a vacation in years. For some, work can be so overwhelming that they don’t think they can afford to take time away from their jobs. They fear that the work will pile up even more when they get back. Others are so dedicated to their job/career that they view their accumulated vacation time as a badge of honor. You probably know someone who boasts of not taking a vacation for years. Statistics paint a pretty dismal picture.
- Twenty-six percent of Americans take no vacations at all.
- Only 14% of Americans take two weeks or more at a time for vacation.
- Employees hand their companies more than $21 billion in unused vacation days each year.
- The average American spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation!
Even those workers who take a vacation are still tied to work via e-mail and voicemail. In fact, 61% of Americans check e-mail while on vacation. That’s not a real vacation! We need time off to rest, relax and rejuvenate. If we don’t take time for ourselves, then we’ll get burnt out. If we’re burnt out, then our productivity goes down and our health suffers. Health experts say that people can decrease their risk of a heart attack by one third if they take one week of vacation a year.
Karen Ruiz, a Project Manager at CalPERS, realizes the value of vacations. Early in her career, she went three to four years without a vacation, which negatively impacted her marriage. She and her husband set a goal to take two one-week vacations a year. Now she takes a vacation completely away from work and leaves someone else in charge. “You won’t find me with a laptop on the beach,” says Karen.
If you’re used to being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you may find it challenging to take a work-free vacation. The key is to make arrangements ahead of time with customers and co-workers. If they know ahead of time that you won’t be available, and who they can contact instead, then they and the business will be fine. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and with more energy to tackle your work. Believe me; your organization will survive without you. Give yourself the gift of time off work!