Do you feel run down or out of control? Well, you’re not alone. Burnout has become a crisis in this country, with U.S. companies attributing over $300 billion in lost revenue because of dollars spent on healthcare bills, missed work days and attrition.
Women leaders understand the concept of burnout all too well, and have struggled for decades to find a better balance between work, family, and other interests.
Establishing some type of balance when you are a female leader adds yet another dimension of complexity to an already seemingly impossible situation, and may even result in health issues such as fatigue, depression, anxiety and pain (think stiff neck, joints, backaches).
Even worse, an imbalance can lead to sleep disorders which, according to Healthline also affect the central nervous system, making it harder for you to concentrate or learn new skills.
When life is out of balance, it can feel like a runaway train.
But accepting a new leadership position doesn’t have to equate to sleep deprivation or anxiety: there are ways to win the balance war. The good news is that there are women leaders who are ready and willing to share their strategies for recharging, relaxing and rejuvenating, regardless of the amount of stress that comes with the job.
Merente Wedell Wedellsborg, a certified organizational psychologist, notes that when women are at the top, the key to recharging is “harnessing the positive energy that you have and protecting yourself from that energy being drained.” She notes that we all have “psychological super powers” that help us recharge, and each person is different. For one person, it might be coloring a mandala picture (which can feel meditative); for another it might be visualizing your next vacation. Focusing on positive, relaxing moments naturally brings anxiety levels down and offers a much-needed break from a fast-paced environment.
Here are some other noteworthy tips from experts and women leaders at the top of their game:
Get a Jump on the Day: Getting some private time before a busy day is a common strategy for most leaders. Just starting an hour earlier than others helps them get organized and ready for the day’s challenges.
Exercise: In one Forbes article, most women leaders cited exercise as their best strategy for taking a rejuvenating break.Mary Bui-Pham, head of operations at her company, says:
“exercise time in the morning is something I do to take care of me and I guard it religiously. Once I’m done taking care of myself, I’m ready to tackle the world.”
Calendar Blocks and Plenty of Breaks: Whether it’s a half hour or 15 minutes, putting some much-needed blocks on the calendar for personal time offers an opportunity to make a quick call to a friend, surf the internet, watch an inspirational TEDTalk or just sit in a quiet place.
Meditation: Recharging through Meditation can do wonders for your health. When we are anxious, there is a quick release of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline). But when we meditate, we shut down this response and release a hormone called GABA instead, which is known as the brain’s “tranquilizer.”
Nurturing Food and Drink:Healthy foods like almonds can act as a pick me up. Entrepreneur Kara Goldin says that “often times when we feel low on energy, we think that we need food, sugar or caffeine. I always try drinking water first and most of the time it does the trick.”
Say Yes, Sometimes: Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC blockbusters like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” believes that saying “yes” to new adventures is one way to recharge and open yourself up to experiences that may head you down a better road. In her book The Year of Yesshe explains that getting out of your comfort zone can infuse more excitement into your life and help rejuvenate your creativity.
Making an effort to relax and recharge might just be the most important step you can take to lead effectively and mitigate negative health effects. Exactly how you recharge and what you choose as a technique is entirely up to you, but a great place to start is by identifying your own “psychological super powers.” Then start incorporating them into your everyday routine.
So get excited.
Here’s hoping that the boost you get from finding that extra energy will inspire you to make self-care a priority from now on. Once you’re there, you can join all the other women leaders who have already found their own strategies, and who have been cheering you on from the sidelines all along.