Reena is a senior manager with a bank. She works 5 days a week, a typical work day being 9-6. She has two kids in class 7 and 4. After coming back from work everyday, she spends time taking care of her kid’s homework or being on calls with clients from US. Weekends are busy too – on Saturdays, she typically has to spend time taking the kids to their music and dance classes and in between shopping for groceries and other essentials. Sundays fly past with social obligations, preparing for the week ahead and such things.
How many of us are leading or have led the life of Reena? At the end of the day, is Reena happy? Well, maybe yes but the more important question is, could Reena be better off? Definitely yes. What seems to be missing in Reena’s life is something that most women managers and leaders severely underrate – self -care.
Self-care is one of the most ignored aspects of women managers and leaders, to the extent that most feel guilty about taking care of their most basic needs. Spending time with oneself and taking care of one’s physical and emotional well-being is viewed by most working women as pampering and there is a lot of guilt associated with it. Unlike their male counterparts, who take breaks, de-stress, do boy outings (sometimes sponsored by their employers!), women do not ‘indulge’ in such things as it takes precious time away from their role as mother, daughter, wife and manager. As we ignore the deeper needs of our own bodies and minds, we learn to live a life of constant stress. Infact, being in a state of continuous moderate stress becomes the new normal.
Several studies have highlighted the negative impact of continuous stress on our physical and mental health. Apart from long term health impacts such as sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, insomnia etc., there is immeasurable emotional damage due to strained relationships, a constant feeling of guilt etc.
Some of the most obvious forms of self-care include things like regular sleep, good eating habits, regular exercising and meditation. But spending guilt free time with your true self, making time to pursue your hobbies, being honest about your emotional needs to yourself and others is just as important and more rejuvenating. The ultimate benefit is stronger work and home relationships, better quality (if not quantity) of time spent with others and consequently, greater well-being.