Working women will undoubtedly feel extra pressure due to the societal responsibilities placed on them. They are expected to do what the patriarchal division of labour asks them to do in addition to pursuing their career aspirations. Just like a pressure cooker may work consistently and still be at the risk of bursting at too much load, a working woman needs to ensure that she’s taking good care of herself and giving special attention to activities that help her get better at managing her responsibilities. This idea, taken from Nkiru Olumide-Ojo’s book, The Pressure Cooker, focuses specifically on how women who are newly established in their professional careers struggle to cope with the overwhelming expectations put on them by society. When this expectation becomes too overbearing, they choose to exit their work life and retire to their domestic responsibilities.
In such cases, self-care becomes absolutely necessary to fight off the risk of a pressure cooker situation developing. In simple terms, self-care refers to taking care of yourself and prioritising one’s needs, hence a step towards improving one’s physical and mental well-being.
While the general idea of self-care may be self-explanatory to everyone, what a woman must specifically do to manage her responsibilities better and ensure both a healthy domestic life and a prosperous professional career is more ambiguous. Sometimes, the stigma around self-care and prioritising one’s mental health leads to difficulty and hesitance in realising the demands needed by body and mind. Additionally, the rising pressure of the work’s workforce makes this realisation more difficult. To cope with this overwhelming pressure, a method must be adopted where one can release the build-up of stress. Therefore, before they start any other self-care activity, working women must recognise the importance of self-care itself. They must understand that self-care is a habit that yields long-term results, not a short-term last-resort fix to an already occurring problem.
The Cleveland Clinic’s observation underscores a crucial point: when women prioritise the well-being of others, such as spouses and children, at the expense of their own mental health, it can lead to a multitude of challenges. Focusing on self-care, particularly the psychological aspect, is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and effectively managing numerous responsibilities. Mental well-being serves as the foundation for overall health and resilience. By acknowledging and addressing their psychological needs, working women can enhance their emotional resilience, cognitive functioning and coping mechanisms.
Self-care begins with what working women can accomplish at work. If you are employed, it is extremely important to work at a firm that recognises and appreciates the work that you do. Similarly, it is important to make sure that you are giving your 100% in a work environment so that your worth is well known to everyone in the office. Self-help is an important tool to help manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy levels.
Integrating small acts of self-care can look in the form of:
Get regular exercise.
Eat healthy, regular meals, and stay hydrated.
Make sleep a priority.
Try a relaxing activity. For instance, incorporating meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, such as journaling. Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Focus on positivity: Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts. Staying connected to close friends and family.
In conclusion, self-care for working women is a transformative practice that transcends the realm of personal satisfaction. It is a strategic investment in sustained physical and mental health, enabling women to navigate the complexities of both professional and personal spheres. As society acknowledges and encourages the importance of self-care, women can pursue their ambitions and career goals and simultaneously prioritise their well-being.
(Author is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected])