01 Sep Mental Wellness For The Everyday Career Woman
BY: Ramona Deane
COVID-19 continues to pose challenges which are particularly difficult for working women. In fact, some studies have shown that employed women are inundated with a disproportionate amount of domestic tasks, such as childcare and eldercare, despite having more professional responsibilities.
Balancing such demands and the lack of resources needed to manage them becomes crucial to stay healthy, especially where mental wellness is concerned. So, here are several ways that the everyday career woman can maintain her mental health despite taking on various roles:
Going back to the basics of good health is one of the best ways to combat stress and restore mental wellness. Start by incorporating exercise into your routine. Apart from improving depressive symptoms, engaging in physical activity has also been shown to reshape the brain’s structure, which prompts more efficient cognitive processing that allows better focus and problem-solving.
You can benefit from this boost in cognition and mood by exercising two to three times a week, whether it’s cardiovascular or strength training – the important thing is to get moving for at least 20 to 30 minutes. It’s an excellent way to improve one’s health while being more productive and feeling happier at home.
While meditating may seem like time spent away from being productive, even a short session can have lasting benefits on any busy professional’s mental wellbeing. Meditation allows you to develop an awareness of patterns in your thinking and behavior by focusing on the present moment. As a result, anxieties from stressors of the blended home and work environment are much easier to identify and manage.
An easy way to start meditating even with limited time is to do a body scan. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and practice slow breathing to start. Pay attention to one specific body part at a time, making sure to ground yourself in the present moment all throughout. Conclude the session by focusing on your entire body in its relaxed state before resuming your activities.
GET AN EXPERT’S OPINION
There are some cases where mental health can deteriorate and require the help of an expert. Recognizing this need for expert help is essential to regain a sense of mental wellness. However, it can also be challenging to book a session due to the pandemic and a shortage of mental health workers. Studies have shown that more than 96% of US counties lack mental-health prescribers – a shortage that is “most profound in rural areas.” Fortunately, other mental health professionals such as advanced-practice nurses have stepped up, using solutions such as telehealth to deliver services to those in need, no matter where they are.
In fact, much of the healthcare sector has moved online. Even universities have begun to offer online doctor of nursing practice programs, which allow nurses to specialize in mental health work for various settings, whether for private practice, federal agencies, or schools. These online degrees have the advantage of being just as valid as traditional ones, with the convenience of students being able to take them purely online. With more nurses having access to specialized training for advanced roles, it becomes easier to find the expert help needed to improve your mental wellbeing. Plus, these doctors of nursing practice can operate autonomously. Research the options in your area – if a psychiatrist is unavailable, chances are there are expert nurses who can provide you the support you need and connect you with a physician if necessary.
ASK FOR SOCIAL SUPPORT
Part of achieving mental wellness is having a good support system, and partners who successfully supported working women provided this in several ways. First, roles were delegated between partners with an awareness of gender politics. Each companion also understood that dual commitments were required for both work and family. Discuss these key points with your partner with a focus on providing each other with social and emotional support in a continuous process, rather than treating equality as an end goal.
Working women also need support from family and friends, and this is especially true for single mothers. Processing difficult emotions such as guilt and relief that are normal in parenthood becomes easier with other experienced individuals who can provide insights and empathize with you. Look for trusted individuals with whom you can express your feelings, as this will contribute to how secure you feel from your sources of support.
Mental wellness is a result of balancing several aspects of a healthy and productive life, but women cannot do it alone. There is a need for allies and advocates as women continue to have dual roles as caregivers and professionals. With the right kind of support, even the most ambitious career woman can reach her goals despite the challenges.
Ramona Deanne is a part-time digital content creator and a full-time mental wellness advocate. She lives in a modern bungalow with her husband, kids, and two dogs, Max and Dottie.