Women Embodying Work/Life Balance For Emotional and Mental Clarity
By Dominique Carson
Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Influencer Sandtrice Russell said, "If you don't manage your wellness, you'll be managing your illness."
The COVID-19 pandemic, a horrendous event that the world experienced three years ago, made entrepreneurs across all industries shift their priorities to make more room for "life" activities and moments and embrace the term "work/life balance." Work/life balance means equal priority to professional and personal affairs.
However, for women, in particular, caregiving falls squarely on their shoulders, with an estimated 62% of women providing more than 20 hours of weekly care compared to 38% of men. This imbalance contributes to other problems in maintaining work-life balance, including job and financial security and physical and mental health and well-being. Therefore, managing schedule flexibility to support self-care or familiar caregiving responsibilities has become a priority for women entrepreneurs, evolving past the previous "hustle culture.
Russell's quote exemplifies why it's essential to have a work/life balance, especially for women. But, women tend to focus more on relationships, their partners, and kids versus taking care of themselves. They're not taking a couple of minutes for themselves to engage in something related to self-care, whether it's a massage or anything for 30 minutes that doesn't interfere with their everyday duties.
"Making time for themselves is usually pushed back or put on the back burner because they don't have the time or support," said Russell.
Russell said the "superwoman image" makes it more difficult for women to have the "work/life balance" because they believe they have to do it all, be strong, or be the person who takes on everything. Women must fulfill their parent roles, household duties, or care for a parent.
"I feel like, because historically, that'd be a woman's role. We feel like we've had to continue doing it over time because it's what we've seen our mom do; our grandmother took care of everything," said Russell. " But we're in a different space because a lot of times, you know, in the older days, women's primary role was to be at home and take your kids to cook, get to make sure that that was going on. But in today's society, women are working outside the house and expected to do all they were expected to do 50 years ago; it's just not feasible."
Some women want a work/life balance but may need more job security, limited annual leave or paid time off, or the financial means to take off for an extended period.
"They're going to have to use their weekends or whatever packing time they can get for their free time. I've had to work with people and say hey, maybe you need to get up 30 minutes earlier so that you can have that long time. Whether it's going or meditating, praying, whatever that looks like for the woman," said Russell.
Russell understands that getting up early or rearranging their schedule can be a sacrifice for women because they want their sleep, which is good for wellness. But finding that pocket of time for your mental health is vital, and a lot of women are lacking in this department.
Women may have to work multiple jobs to provide for themselves and their families. However, it is recommended that women reevaluate their support system because if they're burning the candle at both ends and don't have the time, they must find a way to outsource if they have family or friends.
"You can't make something out of nothing. If you don't have the time, you want to make sure that whatever support you have, that you're leaning into those, whether it's giving your kids, you know, some actual programs so that you can have a few moments in between the two jobs," said Russell.
Russell states when she has female clients who inform her about feeling overwhelmed or burned out, she accesses their self-care system, and when they return for the second session, she'll go over their techniques to see where they can improve as a whole. She looks at their psychological, spiritual, mental, and emotional wellness or setting boundaries once they leave the workplace.
"I go step by step and have them select a couple of things to work on for the first couple of weeks together. And they will add on as they can, or a lot of it is just seeing what's not working and figuring out what to get you to a better space," said Russell. "When you're not in a place, a wellness of balance is going to cause a lot of anxiety. And usually, that's the root, the issue causing many women, especially women in the workplace, to come to therapy."
Russell recognizes women adopting the term "work/life balance," but it's all about being consistent to reduce stress and make it their lifestyle. She also adds that women must perform their self-care to cope with anxiety and anger so they can have balance in their lives.
Women can also suggest to their spouses, significant others, or other relatives to lighten the load in the household so they can work towards work/life balance. Russell advises individuals to ask the influential women in their lives to check in once a week and see what they can do to alleviate the situation. They can figure out the agenda for the week because it's not the 1950s; women are taking on a vast load. Therefore, women should not feel they must do everything themselves and let go of the superwoman mentality.
On the other hand, if women do not have anyone that they can rely on, the other alternative is to make connections because we all need support; we all need somebody. Women need to find spaces to feel safe, be seen and heard, and have support, even if the support is not daily.
"You need that connection because social wellness is important. It's a part of wellness, balance, work/life balance, and other dimensions. Try to find those connections; let it be natural because we cannot do life alone," said Russell.
"Make sure that between your work life and your personal life that you build in time for yourself, to replenish yourself and restore yourself so that you keep taking care of yourself first and foremost, but that ability to continue taking care of others to have once you've taken care of yourself," said Russell.