I was recently chatting to a girlfriend – you know the friend that’s been your mate since kindergarten – and we were sharing our hopes for 2015… the ones that are so sacred you don’t dare share them above a whisper. The irony is, we both wished for what the other already has. Her, for a partner and family, and I, for better health.
You see, 12 months on from having my third baby, and adding ‘author’ to my title, in addition to already running a busy graphic design studio from home, my health had fallen way, way down the long list of priorities. It ranked after, well, pretty much everything.
The good news is, I’ve learnt a lot along the way, and I know what helps me feel a million times better. It’s just about making these a priority again!
Burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, and tossing and turning because your brain is too busy to switch off for the evening can obviously really impact your days. Sleep is really important for us to be able to function properly. In my book I talk about keeping a work-in-progress list. Your list of jobs, with up-to-date action points, so there’s no need to be carrying every little detail around in your head. This means, when your head hits the pillow, you shouldn’t be wondering about the project or job you started yesterday. For any new ideas that might come to you, keep a small notepad on your bedside table and jot them down ready for morning. If you’re still struggling to switch off, then some simple meditation techniques can help too.
Trust me, I get it. When you’re working from home, it’s really tempting to raid the kid’s lolly bag from the weekend’s party. However, when you’re planning your food shop, you should include healthy snack options, like nuts, vegetables, hummus, and yoghurt. Also, invest in some delicious herbal teas, and make sure to keep a large bottle of filtered water within hands-reach. The bonus is you’re not surrounded by or driving past fast-food outlets, like many big office complexes. So if you’re well stocked in the kitchen, you’re more likely to make something nutritious from your own fridge or pantry, rather than inhaling the latest mega-burger before your 2pm meeting.
My once a week Pilates session is my non-negotiable, and always has been. I feel the benefit on many levels. It forces me to leave the house, no matter how many jobs are in the in-tray. Moving my body and stretching my muscles makes me feel awake and refreshed, and the calm pace quiets my active mind, making me more focussed and reflective. I’m not one of those people who bounces out of bed, excited to go for a run, but when I do grab the kids and hit the pavement, the fresh air, sun shining, bees buzzing around the season’s flora, all become a lovely symphony of inspiration.
This is where a really good naturopath or nutritionist comes in. If you feel like you are already doing everything you can, but still aren’t as good as you could be, an expert can advise you on any vitamin supplements you may need to bounce back to your best.
One of the most common reasons people want to work from home in the first place is to achieve a better balance in their lives. Balance is one of those elusive things that looks different to each person. Whether it be going for a run everyday, or catching up with a friend for coffee. In its simplest form, it’s really about knowing what makes you feel healthy and happy, and factoring in time to make sure it happens. So once you’ve finished the big project you’ve been working on, be sure to head out into the sunshine for a while.
I think as women, we’re wired to look after everybody and everything else around us before ourselves. And when you’re working from home with the addition of a family in tow, it's very easy to let your own needs get bumped off the radar.
In my experience, this doesn’t really benefit anyone, and the absolute reverse is the best approach. When you’re looking after yourself, everybody enjoys the benefits. This means getting decent sleep, eating a balanced and varied diet, making time for exercise, seeking out health professionals where required, like a doctor or naturopath, and ensuring you’re balancing your work load with some down-time. Who doesn’t love the company of a healthy and happy wife, mum, sister, colleague and friend!