Since 2007, there has been a 60% increase in women-owned businesses across the country. There has also been a larger societal shift in confidence among female leaders and entrepreneurs. Conversations no longer revolve around wondering whether women can make it in the workforce.
The questions I hear from women in the workplace today are more concerned with discovering the best use of our talent and energy and learning how to strike an ideal balance between prioritizing our careers and still taking care of families, personal self-care, and our sanity.
According to Forbes, “Living in a world of “always-on” culture can wreak havoc on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Constantly grinding leads to burnout, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. Our immunity weakens, we age faster, and we become more susceptible to colds. News flash: you can’t grow your career if you’re running on fumes and stressed out.”
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, here are some tips for improving your career using self-care strategies.
1. De-stress with a Quick Breathing Exercise
According to the American Psychological Association, “A stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper, and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.”
I like to take advantage of my drive to and from work by de-stressing. I use the time as a mental break to gather my thoughts and transition into the next phase of my day.
For moments when I find myself getting stressed out or overwhelmed during the workday, I use the 4-7-8 breathing exercise at my desk:
- To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise.
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
- Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
- Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm.
2. Declutter Your Workspace
Keeping your work and living space clean may seem like a somewhat insignificant task, but it has a measurable impact on how people respond to stress and their productivity levels.
In a Harvard University experiment, 100 undergraduates spent time in either a perfectly tidy workplace or one that was cluttered with discarded cups, stacks of paper, etc. The participants were then led to a separate room where they were tasked with solving an unsolvable puzzle.
The students who began the experiment in the clean workspace persisted at attempting to solve the puzzle for a full 6.5 minutes longer (18.5 vs. 11) than those who spent time in the cluttered workspace.
Persisting with a difficult task is one way to measure a participant’s response to elevated stress levels. The study concluded that messy, cluttered workspaces can undermine a person’s persistence in completing tasks, negatively impacting their productivity.
For tips on tidying up your home and workspace, check out our blog: Declutter Your Home with These Organization Hacks
3. Delegate Duties More Often
Recent research shows women are less likely to delegate tasks than their male counterparts, which is contributing to women being overworked and could be negatively impacting our careers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “When it comes to delegating, women might be at a disadvantage. In a group of five Colombia Business School Studies that examine the way men and women delegate, there were some key differences. Researchers found that women:
- Delegate less than men
- Are more likely to feel guilty about delegating tasks
- Tend to have shorter, rushed interactions with their employees when they do delegate tasks (whereas men tend to spend more time making small talk during the interaction).
The results show that women who don’t delegate are missing out on crucial opportunities to train and mentor their subordinates and they have less time for big-picture thinking.”
You can watch the full video WSJ here.
When it comes to incorporating self-care strategies into your career, just remember the 3 Ds—De-Stress, Declutter, and Delegate!
If you’re a business owner being pulled in multiple directions at work, consider delegating your time-consuming HR-related tasks to SWBC PEO. We’re dedicated to helping your business streamline operations so you can direct your energy where you need it most.
When you work with us, our team of experts can take over stressful and time-consuming tasks such as payroll, benefits, HR, and compliance, allowing you to introduce more balance into your workday.