Amber Kelaart Women Working Well Interview

Amber Kelaart Women Working Well Interview

New research reveals Aussie womens' self-care sabotage in the workplace

Interesting new research has recently been released around how Australian working women are prioritising self-care. Their day starts with turning on a laptop with a coffee in one hand and phone in the other. Office jobs are making Aussie women push self-care to the bottom of their to-do list. According to new Health Yourself research by Bayer:
77% of women admit that they have lost sleep due to stress at work.
77% of women state they have skipped exercise because they had to work.
70% of women admit that they put on weight because their lifestyle changed due to work.
Only 23% of women choose their lunch option at work based on its nutritional value, whilst the top reason for choosing their lunch option at work is easy access (30%).

Interview with Amber Kelaart, nutritionist at Nutrition Australia

Question: What message do you hope to spread around International Self-Care Day?

Amber Kelaart: It would be wonderful if there was a shift in the thinking that self-care is somehow an indulgence, to a belief that self-care is a necessity for health and wellbeing.

Question: What surprised you most about the findings around how Australian working women are prioritising self-care?

Amber Kelaart: I'm not surprised that Australian working women are not prioritising their self-care. Women are really good at putting the needs of others first and there are often competing demands on their time and multiple responsibilities to manage. Often taking a break or putting yourself first can induce feelings of guilt so working women don't do it often enough!

Question: How detrimental is regular multi-tasking?

Amber Kelaart: There's an increasing body of research that demonstrates that multi-tasking actually makes you less productive. Focusing on completing one task at a time is like to result in you being more efficient and effective at whatever you're doing.

Question: How does sleep and exercise complement our work?

Amber Kelaart: Sleep and exercise are both fundamental to health and wellbeing. Sleep recharges your batteries but research has demonstrated that sleep also play a role in immune function, metabolism, memory and learning. Regular exercise also has a myriad of positive benefits including improved mood and reduction in depressive symptoms, it helps with maintaining a healthy weight, muscle mass and bone density, can reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Being physically active can also help you sleep! So committing to regular exercise and enough sleep each day will make you not only feel more energized, it's likely to make you more productive at work and home.

Question: What easy access lunch meals do you suggest for busy working women?

Amber Kelaart: Leftovers from the night before are always a winner for busy working women. Some of my go to favourites are sardines, salmon or boiled egg on toast, mini frittatas and a huge green leafy salad with chickpeas and feta or in the wintertime I cook a huge pot of minestrone or chicken and vegetable soup and I take a bowl to work each day. I also take a few portable snacks such as fruit, a handful of almonds or yoghurt to keep me satisfied until dinnertime.

Question: Can you share some examples of self-care practices?

Amber Kelaart: Getting out of the office and taking a walk at lunch time
Taking the time to cook a seasonal and delicious meal
Walking your dog or yourself
Making some time in your day which is strictly technology free
Maintaining friendships and making quality time a priority for your family
Doing some form of physical activity every day, something that you enjoy
Asking for help or support when you need it, either at home or work
Yoga, meditation and mindfulness
Giving yourself permission to slow down and rest if you need it

Question: How can we prioritise self-care practices over our work and family?

Amber Kelaart: The old cliché that you need to fit your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs is the perfect way to think about self-care. With small children, I know when I take the time to care and nurture myself it makes me a mother who has more to give and in certainly true in the work environment as well, where I find myself far more productive.

Question: How do you practice self-care?

Amber Kelaart: I'm thoroughly committed to practicing daily self-care and I find if I'm consistent I feel less stressed, more productive and am able to connect better with those around me. For me it's simple things like getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, regular catch-ups with friends and family, drinking enough water, having phone-free time so I can spend quality time with my family, daily exercise either at the gym or going for a walk, getting outside most days even in winter usually helps centre me and calms my soul- whether it be playing a game with my children or pottering around in my garden. The other thing which really works for me, is waking up half an hour before everyone in the house and using this 'quiet time' to let my mind think about the day ahead.

Interview by Brooke Hunter

Bayer is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of all Australians by providing innovative solutions to health challenges. Therefore, this year's Health Yourself campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of self-care and encourage all Australians to take the challenge to turn their self-care sabotage into self-care practice. The campaign has involved two surveys of 2,007 adults in total aged 20+ years, aimed at understanding self-care behaviours of Australians across the country within different pillars of self-care.