This is not an inspirational Monday morning post. I’m quoting facts and figures about stress. I think we need to know this stuff so that we can become more mindful about switching off autopilot and creating space for everyday joy.
This weekend I was reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington (GREAT BOOK). In this book Arianna shared some startling facts about work and stress that made perfect sense to me. She shared research which stated:
Women in highly stressful jobs have a nearly 40% higher risk of heart disease and heart attack than people who are not in highly stressful jobs.
Women in highly stressful jobs are 60% more likely to develop type 2diabetes, research shows that this is not the same for men.
We have been encouraged into a trap that says the harder we work, the more we will have, the happier we will be. If those metrics are true why is it that there are record numbers of women in their late 30’s and 40’s at the top of their careers feeling more stressed and unfulfilled than ever? Because those metrics are false, they are a product of patriarchy and capitalism (which pretty much the same thing).
I did some reading of my own and found that work based stress is particularly problematic amongst this “You can do it all” generation. Do you remember all the magazines in the 90’s & 00’s shouting this on front covers? Well, as a direct result of this notion women being impacted by work based stress has risen by almost 20% since 2011! This is the age when you are likely to have a lot of responsibility in your career, you may also have children, a relationship to maintain and possibly care for an older relative… not forgetting friendships! Furthermore, as we progress through our 40’s we are even more vulnerable to stress and stress related illnesses as our levels of progesterone begin to drop as we enter perimenopause. Progesterone is a hormone that helps to stabilise response to stress.
We are still living in a time where women continue to be the primary caregivers despite all the advances we are making in the workplace. According to some research conducted by the Health and Safety Executive, women aged between 35 - 44 are more likely to experience work related stress than men. From what I know of stress it is not considerate and does not confine itself to office hours, it shows up everywhere especially in our minds an bodies as illness. If we do not have good physical and mental health we really have nothing at all.
We are just doing too much for little gain! Yes we can have it all but not at the same time, not with out help and not without slowing TF down! *channels the “Why are you ronnin” Nollywood film clip.
Now I am not recommending that anyone leaves their job, closes their business or anything like that! What I am suggesting is that you schedule time to slow down, especially in the run up to Christmas when it is easy to get swept up in social busyness in addition to our day to day busyness.
I implore you to switch off autopilot and plan some time to mindfully do something for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a spa day or weekend away, unless you want to.
I am talking about taking an actual lunch break, leaving your desk and just eating (no phone!). Pay attention to the food you are eating, chew slowly, savour the flavour observe how it feels. Or how about going for a walk during your lunch break, no phone, just you walking and observing your surroundings. You could decide to wake up 15mins earlier and have a luxurious shower paying real attention to how your body feels as you wash and rinse off. How about indulging in a long bath spending time thanking your body for carrying and supporting you?
I could give many examples but I think you get the picture, just give yourself time to observe the everyday joys of life.