Wellbeing for Women in Management

Women in management face particular challenges in today’s workplace.
This was originally commissioned as a 3 part article series by The Australian Institute of Management.
by Neera Scott.

The multiple demands of work and personal life pose particular challenges for professional women. Often juggling full-time work with childcare and domestic duties, women in management roles may also feel pressured to ‘over-perform’ by gender inequity in the workplace. These factors can affect a women’s capacity to deal with stress and may create poor long-term patterns contributing to burnout or ill health.

Regularly taking time out to rejuvenate may not be a high priority. However, as many women realise, if they don’t first look after themselves, they don’t have the resources to look after others. Practices like yoga and meditation can help women maintain balance amidst these pressures, allowing them to draw on their innate strength and find the confidence to achieve their goals.

Scheduling recharge sessions into your week doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few suggestions:

Mindfulness Meditation (10+ minutes)
A simple awareness exercise for mental clarity and focus

Sit comfortably somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Switch phones onto silent. Set a timer for 10 minutes and close your eyes. Allow yourself a moment of total acceptance of whatever state you find yourself in, and acceptance of any background noise or other potential distraction.

Start by lengthening and deepening your breath, emphasising the exhale. Once you’ve settled, relax and breathe normally. Focus your attention on the tip of the nose, noticing the natural breath moving in and out. Simply remain present, observing the breath. When the time is up, bring your awareness back to the body, and stretch out if you need. Increase the period of sitting as you’re ready.

‘Yoga Nidra’ Relaxation (20 minutes)
A powerful restorative practice – best done at night for sound sleep.

Lie down with your arms slightly away from the body and feet wider than hips. Let your body sink into the floor. Slowly move your attention through one body part at a time, simply feeling that part and then relaxing it, eg: “Bring your awareness into your right foot – the toes, sole, heel, ankle; then feel the whole right foot relax”. Then move your attention step-by-step through the right leg, then the left, and so on. Move in order until you’ve covered the entire body. Finish by scanning head to toe to ensure no tension remains.

Create a support network
Being in the company of women peers who support and inspire you is a great way to recharge. Women leaders say that practical and emotional support is a key ingredient to their success. Well-timed words of encouragement, or a forum to share what’s going on personally can keep you working in a positive direction. Build your personal support network of peers and maintain regular contact. Or find a women’s group or similar network where you can share ideas in a non-work environment.

Creating new habits with yoga and meditation, and fostering nurturing relationships with women peers all influence your wellbeing, leading to positive changes in not only your professional but also your personal life.

Copyright Neera Scott, 2013