I read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald recently with incredibly alarming statistics. It stated that almost half of Australian women were anxious or depressed and that 67 per cent (yes that’s two thirds) of women report feeling nervous, anxious or on edge EVERY SINGLE DAY!
The study found that contributing factors for this are women not getting time to themselves whilst struggling to keep all the balls up in the air – family, work, parents, and other stuff that inevitably throws a spanner in the works.
So what on Earth are we going to do about this conundrum? It’s completely unsustainable for women to continue living on the edge like this and for half of Australia’s population to keep the smoke in and not spontaneously combust!
Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve incorporated into my life in response to the same crippling “living on the edge” womanly life sensations that have helped me (with time and practice):
1) Make a list of the top values in your life and make decisions based on these values. Not sure what your values are? Never thought about your values before? Neither had I til my psychologist suggested I work that shit out. I made a list, stuck it up on the fridge and every time I was confronted with a difficult choice, instead of immediately saying yes like I always had, I checked my values list to see if there was a conflict. If there was, I said no to that choice if I could. If I couldn’t, I acknowledged the values conflict, acknowledged my feelings about it and worked out whether there was a way to avoid that conflict of values in the future. Here’s a website that can get you started on the path to values creation. It might be interesting (but you might need wine) to check your partners’ list of values too…
2) Be Ok with saying NO. It’s like a muscle, the more you practice saying it, the easier it will be. Use your values as a reference point. Be like Amy in Bad Moms.
3) Triage your life. People who are triaged in the Emergency Department by the nurse are given a category from one through to five based on the severity of their presentation. Category one means that the person is virtually dead and needs immediate attention. The immediacy of attention decreases right down to a category five which is a non-life threatening condition (like tonsillitis or an ear ache) that is uncomfortable but can wait a few hours or potentially be sent to another care provider like a GP. So consider events in your day or week in this way based on what you value most. For example, if (like me) you place a high value your mental health, it’s a category one. If my mental health starts to slide, everything else goes with it. So I make time for meditation, physical activity and good food I enjoy. It means I get up 20 minutes earlier while the house is still quiet to meditate, and that I also decided to become a yoga teacher (kind of a big commitment, lol!), but you need to do anything to keep a Category One alive and breathing.
4) Consider whether you can live with less so you can decrease the amount of paid work you do. This will depend on what you value. If you place a high value money and material goods or you really value the work you do and it needs to be full-time, it is unlikely this will be something you want to do. However, if you are happy to live in an average to minimal way, and/or your work role allows it, you may be able to work less hours so you have more time to spend on other things you value more highly. If you want to know more about minimalism, check out The Minimalists.
5) Get help. We all know we need to exercise, eat healthily and sleep well, but sometimes we wonder how the bloody hell we’re going to do that as well as everything else. Consider areas of your life you can outsource (maybe it’s getting groceries online so you waste less time in the supermarket). Consider professionals who can help as well, your GP can be a great place to start when it comes to your mental health and can guide you to other professional support like counseling as you require it. Take time out for a massage or a yoga class or anything you know is going to be calming and relaxing for you. Remember (or discover) how it feels to slip into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” side of your nervous system and give your body and mind a break.
6) Plan more fun. Have a girls night out. Go on a date with your partner. Squirt the hose at the kids (if it’s summer time that is, not in general, cos, you know, loving mother and stuff). Plan a getaway and then actually go on it. Dream about what you would do if you won the lottery. Send funny GIFs to your friends on messenger and laugh your head off. Go to free outdoor exercise or yoga class, Live Life Get Active offer them across Australia. Eat a food you love every day. Enjoy the sensation of your breath filling your lungs. Find small moments of joy wherever you can as these small moments add up to large feelings of contentment over time. If you want to know where joy hides out, watch this amazing TED talk.
At Chill Mama Wellness, I am on a mission to change this disastrous phenomenon by offering services to help women to find oasis of calm in their life through yoga, massage and education. If I can help you in any way, please reach out, I want you to step into your fabulous femininity and thrive.
© Written by Amy Vaccaro for Chill Mama Wellness, 10th September, 2018.