Many women feel constantly over-committed; juggling obligations to their employer and colleagues, family members and friends. There is often limited time out to recharge. Setting aside time for personal needs is not easy in a busy life and may feel indulgent or selfish.
In a recent online poll during the inaugural Jean Hailes Women's Health Week asking -How do you take time out for yourself?' 20% of respondents said that this was difficult for them and that they needed to get better at taking time out for themselves.
'Women often expect a lot of themselves without realising that this can sap energy and enthusiasm," says Jane Fisher, the Jean Hailes Professor of Women's Health at Monash University. 'We forget that for us to be able to keep giving to others, we not only have to look after ourselves, but we need to allow others to give to us too. We are great at looking after everyone else in our lives, but we often put ourselves last."
Helpful ways to reflect and recharge
Days that are too full can mean you find it difficult to relax. Practise relaxation skills such as slow, deep breathing, sitting still, listening to soothing music or reading.
So often we are caught up in -doing' rather than just -being'. We worry about what might happen and forget to appreciate what we have and what is happening around us. Practising to just -be' in the moment can help you relax, and stops you feeling distracted and forgetful.
Practise setting limits
Saying yes to everything immediately may mean you end up overloaded and stressed. Practise buying time before saying yes to something new. Learn to say you need to check your diary before you can agree.
Plans help you structure daily life and let you set aside time for little breaks like meeting a friend for coffee, as well as bigger breaks like family holidays.
It can be hard to know where to begin when there are lots of things you need to do. Prioritising helps you determine which things have to be done today, which can wait a few days and which are not urgent and can be put aside.
Make a choice to make time for you
With so many competing demands, it is important to make a conscious choice to take time to do things that help you to feel re-energised or satisfied.
Take the time to reflect on how you are feeling
Sometimes, being busy means we avoid thinking about our feelings – both positive and negative. Take a few moments each day to reflect and understand what has made you feel this way. If it's a negative feeling, think about what would help you to feel better. It's also important to acknowledge positive feelings, and take the time to feel happy and enjoy the moment.
Do something you are passionate about
You may not be able to change work or personal difficulties, but doing something you are passionate about can help. It might be playing sport, creative activities, reading, music or a new hobby. Doing something you love increases your energy, makes you feel good and eases feelings of irritability or frustration.
Connect with others
Many women find that connections with friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours or others help them to feel good about themselves, improving their overall sense of wellbeing. Make time for a catch up over a walk or a shared meal, call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, or join a group and make new friends.
Published with the permission of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health
Tollfree number 1800 JEAN HAILES (532 642) for women seeking further health information www.JeanHailes.org.au