Updated: Aug 25, 2022
How to avoid work-related burnout and find joyful balance as a mother in the workforce
Who said, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”? WHO -The World Health Organisation did.
But if you’re a mum struggling to juggle the demands of family and/or career commitments and you don’t have time for your health and needs, it doesn’t matter who said what.
How do you achieve this impossible state of “well-being” when it feels like the world is against you? How do you find balance as a working mum?
Globally, life as a working mum is busy! In 2019, LeanIn.org co-founders Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas conducted a survey. The survey showed that full-time working mothers spent about 71 hours per week on housework, caregiving and new responsibilities during the Coronavirus pandemic. By 2020, 1 in 4 women were considering stepping down the career ladder or leaving paid work altogether. But pandemic or not, this is the average day in the #workingmumlife, isn't it? According to the 2020 Families in Australia Survey, around 60% of working mothers with children under 18 do all or most of the housework. In America, the 2019 Women in the Workforce report showed slightly better numbers - 40% of mothers reported doing most childcare and housework. A busy life is stressful. High-stress levels lead to unhealthy habits that are hard to break, and therein lies the challenge. If you're a busy mother and health doesn't just happen- how do you find time to create it? It turns out YOU have to make it happen.
To enjoy a complete state of well-being and avoid work-related burnout, you must value a healthy lifestyle and prioritise self-care.
So, what exactly is a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle is more than avoiding being sick, e.g. washing your hands or wearing a mask. You create a healthy lifestyle by proactively improving or maximising your well-being. There are 5 essential self-care habits for work-life balance. These health behaviours are related to how you move, think, sleep, fuel your body and interact with those around you. These self-care habits are the 5 pillars that form the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. When you regularly maintain each pillar, it stays strong enough to support you through challenges. Yet, there is also strength in numbers. So, the five pillars are interconnected like fingers on a hand. When you bring them together like a fist, they empower you with the strength and energy to show up as the best version of yourself at all times. So, if you're looking for a study or work-life balance, here are the five pillars for the healthy and happy lifestyle you truly desire:
Physical activity - Moving your body more.
Mental activity -Training your brain to think in ways that motivate you to consistently take action, find fulfilment and embrace the joy in life.
Nutrition – Making wise food and drink choices to nourish your body, so it's physically fit and fuel your brain to stay mentally sharp.
Sleep – The ultimate restorative therapy and antidote for the stress of a busy life.
Social and Soulful Connection – Nurturing loving relationships with yourself, your family and friends while limiting negative interactions within your network.
Now, if you're thinking, "But, I can't fit more activities into my day!" Look at that list again. You already do these activities daily. And the other good news is it's not about the amount of time but the effort and attention you put into doing these 5 simple daily activities. Quality before quantity. Read on and discover easy tips for working these 5 essential habits into your busy day and creating the work lifestyle you love.
Tips for weaving 5 essential self-care habits into a busy day
Essential Habit 1: Move your body more at work.
Stand up for yourself. A sedentary lifestyle kills. Fortunately, you're not glued to your chair or chained to your desk. That's why it's important to spend less time sitting and more time standing. So, stand up, stretch and walk every hour. Request a standing desk or stand during meetings.
Tell your boss to take a walk..not 'take a hike' (one word - huge difference). Suggest walking meetings to your boss or implement them if you are the boss. Walking meetings are a great way to keep everyone awake, stimulate creative thinking and promote well-being at work.
Essential Habit 2: Training your brain to watch your thoughts.
A work environment is like a classroom environment. We all need to get along, so you can't always voice your thoughts or freely vent your feelings. As a result, we can internalise a lot of negative talk and tension in our muscles. So you'll have to be resourceful until your company installs punching bags next to water coolers or a soundproof screaming room for employees to relieve work-related pressure. Here are 2 ninja steps to release stress and clear your thoughts when there's no room to throw a tantrum.
Step 1: Take a few deep belly breaths to slow your racing heart rate and lower your rising blood pressure. Then relax your facial muscles and drop your shoulders down. Unclench those fists and wriggle your fingers and toes instead.
Step 2: Close your eyes and watch your thoughts. Notice what's on your mind. What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Are you tired, hungry, angry, sad, or frustrated? Simply acknowledging how you're feeling at that moment helps clear your thoughts. Although you may not be able to flick the "happy switch" to ON, you are steps closer to feeling better.
Essential Habit 3: Sleep is queen.
At the end of a busy or stressful day, staying up late watching Netflix or scrolling through your social media fix is tempting. But what you really need is sleep. Sleep is the powerful way our brain resets and re-energises our bodies, minds, and spirits. Lack of good quality sleep negatively impacts your mood, self-control, and work performance. Sleep is queen, so avoid sacrificing your sleep to the internet gods. Instead, seduce your wired senses to sleep with a warm aromatic shower, followed by a relaxing book or soothing music.
Essential Habit 4: You are what you eat...and drink.
Coffee, cookies and lollies are commonly abundant in the workplace. When you're bored or tired, it's all too easy to dip into this oasis of caffeinated and sugary office goodies. The problem is that the energy dip and hunger pangs come after the short-lived energy spike, so you end up feeling more tired and likely moody.
Here are three simple nourishment tips for maintaining your mental focus, sustaining consistent energy levels, and improving your mood when the days are long:
Carry ready-made, fresh, real, whole foods as snacks, e.g. fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Whole foods are natural, nutritionally rich and/or fibre dense, so they will fill you up and satisfy you for longer.
Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle or thermos with warm herbal tea by your side. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger.
Avoid processed foods as they have fewer nutrients and added sugars and salt.
Essential Habit 5: Use love and connection to make your world a happier place.
Be mentally present, not just physically present, when you're in the company of people you enjoy being around, e.g. family or friends.
Create a ritual to shut down your 'fierce-work' mode and open up to your 'happy-to-be-home' mode. Before leaving work, you could imagine yourself moving from the 'working area' of your brain and walking into a brightly lit 'home space'. Take this feeling home with you.
Schedule dedicated time slots for those who matter most to you, and that includes you.
Disconnect from the internet and connect with your people. During family time, silence notifications on your smartwatch or phone or, better yet, leave your phone in a different room.
As a working mum, balance is a necessity, not a luxury, because it is how you create a healthy, happy work lifestyle.
When you’re intentional about making these 5 essential habits a lifestyle, you’ll manage stress better, reduce its impact on those around you, and feel good. As the famous poet and thinker Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said,
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
So, if you’re a working mum looking for balance and haven’t yet found it, that’s because balance is not something you find or stumble upon. Balance is what you create to enjoy health and experience true happiness. So, now that you know what these 5 pillars are, how will you create a balanced lifestyle - what will you do about it today?
I hope that you seize this opportunity to do something for your self-care today so you can build a successful career, raise a happy family and feel good while doing it.
Want to discover more ways to feel like yourself again? Download your FREE 5 Secret Healthy Habits of Happy Mums.