Most women juggling family, work, their own business, relationships and their wellbeing feel they are losing the battle to achieve that perfect work-life balance. 70% of women feel their lives would be better if they had work-life balance. Yet are stressing themselves out to get to it!
Angela Counsel is a leading naturopath, lifestyle consultant and author of Secret Mums Business. She firmly believes work-life balance does not exist and women trying to achieve this balance are doomed to fail.
“Most women think work-life balance is simply the balance between life and work, with equal amounts on either side of the equation,” Angela says.
“Imagine a see saw with work on one side and the rest of your life on the other, one which you need to keep level. It’s completely unattainable and women are making themselves ill through stress and worry when they can’t get this perfect balance.”
Women feel this pressure more than men. The APS Stress and Wellbeing Survey reported women had significantly lower levels of wellbeing than men.
Add being a business owner to the mix and the statistics get a little more worrying. Women business owners are more stressed by work/life balance than their male counterparts (71% v 62%) with 36% of women entrepreneurs working seven days a week, 40% of them saying they work both Saturday and Sunday.
“This leads straight into mother guilt, one of the most stressful feelings of all,” Angela explains.
“Many mums feel guilty when they’re not with their children or feel guilty when they’re not at work or working on their business. It’s a lose-lose situation. These feelings of guilt lead to stress which over the long term can impact emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.”
Angela argues that the perception of work-life balance should be replaced by the concept of work-life harmony, an argument supported by Debb Meyer, mother, wife and co-owner of Narellan Pools.
“It’s about successfully integrating the parts of your life,” the winner of the 2013 Franchise Council of Australia National Franchise Woman of the Year says.
“My husband, Chris and I work long and hard for big bursts of time and then take regular short breaks, carving out special time for ourselves and our family.”
Angela is all too aware of the long term impacts on the health of women who don’t manage their stress having run a successful naturopathy clinic on the Northern Beaches in Sydney for ten years.
“Many women suffer from adrenal burnout and don’t even know they have it,” she explains.
“Ignoring the symptoms of adrenal burnout can lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease.”
Tips from Angela Counsel on how to Beat Stress
- Change your perception of work-life balance. It is not attainable. Instead aim to integrate all elements of your life the best you can each day.
- Take the pressure off yourself. Most of the time the unrealistic expectations are your own, not anyone else’s.
- Ask for help. If you need someone to talk to, have work to hand over, house organisation tasks to delegate, do it.
- Look after yourself first. It’s the whole put the oxygen mask on yourself before your children metaphor when a plane is in trouble. If you are ill and stressed, who is going to look after your children?