GUEST BLOG: JANE ETTY
When you run your own business, prioritising your physical and mental wellbeing can be a challenge. Between looking after our careers, homes, families and social commitments – keeping fit and healthy can easily drop to the bottom of the to-do list.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve been asking guest speakers and our featured female entrepreneurs to share their expert knowledge on how we, as busy working women, can take care of our wellbeing. Today, it’s the turn of mental health and wellbeing coach Jane Etty.
As women, parents, partners and professionals, we juggle a lot of balls in life. Quite frankly we are amazing. However, there are times when it can feel like it’s only a matter of time before one of those balls drops. Our numerous responsibilities and roles we play in life can feel overwhelming.
Managing our mental health is an ongoing process and we are all vulnerable to the impact of stress, anxiety and overwhelm; the ongoing pandemic will only add to our worries. We all need a toolbox to help manage our wellbeing so today I’d like to talk a little bit more about some simple strategies that may help you with this. I will focus on managing wellbeing at work on a day-to-day basis.
When I was asked to write this blog on managing mental health and women in business, I looked back on my own journey.
Just under a year ago, I launched my own business. It has been quite the challenge exploring the business world whilst also being a mum, working part-time for the NHS and managing my own mental health during a pandemic.
I had all the skills I may need, holding various degrees, diplomas and life coaching qualifications, I had next to no business knowledge or experience. The challenge for me was to gain more business knowledge and experience, as well as
being brave and putting myself out there, whilst also juggling my other roles.
At times I felt frustrated, overwhelmed, and anxious. I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. However, I persevered and made it through to 2021 with a stronger mindset, more confidence and a great sense of achievement. So, here are some top tips I have learnt along the way.
Be cautious with social media and limit screen time
Using social media as a means of building a business is useful but time consuming. Due to many of us now working from home, and the multitude of online meetings that come along with this, it has created the need for more screen time. Whilst networking is great for connecting with others and gathering support, it can also be quite draining.
Streamlining what you do and when is very important to help you to use your time well. Use the apps on your phone to monitor your use and review how useful the time spent has been.
It is also important to avoid doom scrolling and consuming a large amount of negative news online, as this can be detrimental to your mental health.
Try not to compare yourself to others
Many women have reached out to me and said they can see others doing amazingly well, whilst they are just managing to keep their head above water. Whilst it is great to share our success in business and sometimes reading about others can be motivating, if you are in the midst of your own personal struggles it can be unhelpful.
It may be useful to talk to people and find out what they are doing in the hope of using other’s strengths and expertise to help you in your business and personal life. However, it is important to remember that you have your own unique style and creativity, and you need to take your own path.
It is easy to compare ourselves to our competitors, especially their financial achievements, but your journey is not going to be the same. Whilst it is good to have goals in mind, remember that you are exactly where you need to be.
Remind yourself of your achievements and allow yourself the time to develop at your own rate. We can all suffer from
imposter syndrome, and not feeling good enough, but it is important to recognise our own strengths and celebrate them.
Working hard does not always mean working long hours, without breaks and with no time for yourself. Be sure to show yourself the compassion and kindness you deserve, know your worth and make time for self care.
To maintain a healthy mindset and prevent burnout, pay attention and listen to what your body needs, for example do you need to schedule in regular meals or factor in some quick nourishing snacks and water throughout the day?
It can be quite easy to forget to pay attention to your basic human needs and dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Schedule in some time to switch off, rest and recharge. Take regular breaks and do what you need to do to feel good.
Allow yourself to try different types of rest. Taking time out from work is a great reset button. Yes, this can be a challenge but the benefits to this are long lasting and will improve your overall efficiency at work. Perhaps take a mental health day or just a couple of hours for yourself to go for a walk.
Be sure to get that early night; remember, some things really can and do need to wait until the
Create a pleasant working environment
Try to have a clear workspace. Make sure it is tidy and organised as this will help productivity.
If you are working from home, perhaps light an energising or relaxing candle. Have some motivating or
comforting reminders around you to help centre your thoughts. It really does make a huge
difference to your mental health when your office space is feeling Zen.
This might all be a little easier for those people without school-aged children, but do the best you can with what you have.
Plan and prioritise
We can all quite easily feel overworked; it can seem difficult to master the art of work and life
If you often wake up first thing worrying about the day ahead and feeling overwhelmed, it could be time to think about how you organise your time. By planning the week ahead, you can set yourself up for success.
Start the working day by looking at the number of tasks that you have. Ask yourself what is realistic and achievable. To get the best out of the hours in your day, it is important to make sure that you prioritise your tasks and recognise what is most important.
You can use these four categories to prioritise your tasks:
— Urgent and important
— Important but not urgent
— Urgent but not important
— Neither urgent nor important
It is also important to plan in one thing daily that adds value and joy to your life. Small daily victories really do boost self-esteem and wellbeing.
Use time blocks during the day
Create and allocate time blocks throughout your day to complete your tasks. Be sure to include breaks! We often put unrealistic expectations on ourselves as to how much we can get done in one hour or in a day. By being realistic, you will feel a greater sense of achievement when you complete your tasks.
Allocate time to check emails and messages during the day; this may not seem important, but you can lose so much time by being on your phone, checking emails and responding to messages. Breaking off from a task in hand or multi-tasking is an ineffective use of time as it reduces efficiency and productivity.
Create no interruption zones in your day; turn off your notifications and emails. Without these distractions you will be much more productive with your time.
Use a brain dump sheet or a to-do list
This can be as simple as a piece of paper. Add any additional ideas, actions or details that come up throughout the day to your list. These can then be added to your priority list if needed, when you come to plan for the next day.
Take regular breaks
This sounds obvious right, but how many of you have found that you have unintentionally been sat at your desk for too long with an aching back, feeling thirsty or hungry. Working your entire day through without taking a break results in fatigue?
A few five-minute breaks and a longer break during the day will make all the difference to your concentration levels. When taking a break, be sure to change your environment and leave your working space. Physically move your body by standing or walking; try to move at least once every hour.
Go and make a drink; I drink herbal tea and make sure my water jug is readily available in the kitchen so that I have to break off briefly between meetings or tasks to grab a drink.
For your longer breaks try phoning a friend, having a shower, talking a walk, having a cup of tea with your partner or anything to create a real separation and break for yourself.
During this time, avoid looking at your phone and work station. Remember, it is counterproductive to work through your entire day without taking a break!
Learn from experience
Take time to review your week. Pick out the positives and do more of these. Identify the pitfalls or problems you faced; don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t achieve everything you set out to. Instead, ask yourself how you could manage a similar problem differently next time so that you are more prepared.
I hope you have enjoyed these top tips from me, Jane Etty, and found them useful. Good luck and let me know how you get on!
We would like to say a huge thank you to Jane for sharing these really practical tips and will be giving them all a try this week! You can follow Jane on Instagram and Facebook or connect with her on LinkedIn.