Women’s Work-Life Balance: The Importance of Investing in Our Needs in 2016

As seen on Huffington Post

This ad by Organic Valley sheds light on “real” mornings for women and how our workforce environment plays a huge role in our day to day lives. 

In a recently launched campaign by Organic Valley titled “Real Morning Report”, the natural foods company hints at the conversation that many women are having today in regards to work/life balance. The ad hints at how most mornings are not ideal for most women: 

 “Hair, shower and makeup outrank breakfast in order of importance to women.” 

According to the ad, chaos trumps calm for most women, but does this mean we are necessarily overworked? Studies show that although women are slightly overworked, most of us would like change and wish to be of more use to our employers. 

 

Is “Real” Ever Ideal? 

 

In another report titled, “Keeping Women In”, results show that “women had just 58% satisfaction with the interaction between their working and personal lives. Within that the lowest score was just 14% and the highest 95%– although every single woman explained that she wanted to achieve more. 

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Many of the women who had taken part in the survey explained it had been a rare and valuable opportunity to take time to think about their general satisfaction and career progression, and how those two elements might be linked. 1.

 

This seems to represent an accurate portrayal of work-life for most women, but often times women of color are excluded from this view.

 

In a recent article published in Rewire, Charmaine Lang describes her research on the emphasis of self-care and the importance of feeling joy, wellness, and love for Black woman organizers in the 70s.

 

“For me, this admission that they were tired, human, and affected by the oppressions they fought makes room for Black women to name their feelings and share their stories.”

 

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Lang researched activists like Anna Julia Cooper, Toni Cade Bambara, and Frances Beal who spoke out against sexist notions encountered by Black women in the workplace. 

“That vulnerability and space needs to be continuously created because it would allow us to express that we are in need of change, and in need of assistance as we work under multiple pressures—deadlines, limited resources, the constant hovering of oppression, and age-old representations of Black womanhood.” 

– Charmaine Lang, Rewire 

Work Life and Wellbeing: Eating Organic 

Diet and exercise are known to effect stress levels and can also play a huge role in supporting women’s work-life balance.

“79% of women admit to eating breakfast in a moving vehicle.” 

In this article by Healthy Women, Dr. Pamela Peeke shares a few tips to “eating your way to calm” by removing simple sugars and starches and avoiding caffeine which can increase stress hormones. 

 

The article suggests loading up on high-fiber veggies and fruits throughout the day instead and relying on exercise to help reduce tension.

 

“Exercise enhances your ability to respond to stress, thus thwarting many of its negative effects such as anxietydepression and heart disease. Regular exercise also helps flush out the byproducts of the body’s stress response – those hundreds of chemicals released in response to a stressful situation – enabling you to return to a normal state quicker.” 

– Dr. Pamela Peeke, Healthy Women 

What do we often hear from bodybuilders and weight-trainers? 

 

“Stick to proteins, reduce carbs, and add greens and more protein”, and if it’s pasture-raised, it’s just a perk, but studies today show how organic meat and dairy can contain up to 56% healthier nutritional profile than other processed products on the market.

That amounts to almost half of the nutrient intake you could be receiving with each meal.

According to The Organic Center, by purchasing one organic item out of every 10 store bought products, we are actively converting 25,8000 square miles of degrading soil into rich, productive land.

 

And because most of us aren’t like the women portrayed in the ad campaign, buying organic can be difficult.

 

Limiting processed foods is another great way to enhance your nutrient intake and reduce stress. This can be done by cooking more at home, growing an organic garden of your own, or both. 

 

Chances are if you’re a heavy meat eater, you  may actually need more enzymes which can be found in plants, fruits, grains, and vegetables as well as dietary supplements. 

 

Changing the Times

 

Balance looks different to everyone, but one thing is for sure: 2016 is the year get active about women’s place in the workforce.

 

This video by Huffington Post demonstrates just how significant this upcoming year will be especially for the half of the population that will arguably be burdened with more debt, receive more in social security, and out-live its male counterparts.

We may not know it, but the ball is finally in our court, and now is the time to stand together more than ever to establish a system and workforce environment that works for all.

As shown in the video, there is a magnitude of potential this year in regards to societal issues like paid leave, equal pay, and reproductive rights, that if implemented, could drastically enhance our work-life balance.

Women today have the power to advance the hot-button issues like women’s rights, and economic equality.

“The U.S is the only industrialized country in the world with no paid maternity leave. Study after study has shown that paid family leave makes a huge difference to women’s mental health and makes us more likely to return to work after we become parents.” 

According to an article in Health and Wellness Today, “only 13% of people in the U.S. have access to paid family leave, according to parental leave advocacy group MomsRising.And of new moms who work, 33% take no formal time off at all, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.”6

 

Also mentioned in the video by Huff Post, the “Paycheck Fairness Act” which would ensure equality amongst gender in the workforce, squashing the gap along with the myth that women receive equal opportunity and pay in the workplace.

 

My Real Morning Routine 

 

As a writer and a drummer, there is a sudden need to burst into the scene at every moment.

 

So my morning routine consists of configuring, much like every woman, how to give just the right attention to all of these important parts of myself. 

 

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Brain says: “Hi, it’s 7:00 AM. Get out of bed in the next 20-30 minutes or I’ll continue to play that Missy Elliot song on rerun that you just got out of your head last night.”

Brush teeth. Feed dog. Walk dog..get started on the laundry list of projects, hobbies, and actual laundry awaiting my attention.

 

As a young professional who is lucky enough to have the option, I often outweigh the possibility/responsibility of parenting with the idea that I can work hard in hopes of providing a level playing field for women in the future. I am in a serious, loving relationship with someone who supports, understands, and respects my ambition.

 

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Is it surprising that I do most of the chores, tidy up constantly around the house, make most of our meals, and work from home?

 

I do sometimes consider it a luxury to be “overworked” in the confines of my own space; however, I STILL get the inkling that I could be doing more outside of my tiny condo/“thinking-mode” abode.

 

At the end of the day, feeling like I don’t have to be empowered at every moment, “but today I was”. That is the balance I adhere to. 

That my professional role in life is more significant than being a mom for the time being is something I’ve learned to accept and love despite my traditional Southern upbringing.

The truth is we are all dealing with a millennia of stigmas and external demands at the same time, all of the time. 

Now, I have the opportunity to fight for the rights of other women, communities, mothers, and families who aren’t as equally represented but are demanding that from us today support today.

 

Yoga or No Yoga, Invest in Your Needs 

 

We are the working women of America who care about our country and its people, who may want families in the future or simply wish to seek out our dreams, passions, and share these values with the world.

 

I will admit, most of my mornings do not start with crow pose (not that I couldn’t use it) but they hardly embody the ease or balance of the women represented in the ad. 

 

In her article, Lang points to community care, love for each other, and “investment in our individual as well as collective needs” to help navigate the workforce and create a better environment for working women nationwide.

 

Reaching out to our fullest potential in community is what empowerment is all about, and if doing handstands on your fridge in the morning is what gets you going and makes you feel whole, then kudos!

 

Take a selfie while doing it, and inspire someone else to do the same.

We are only as strong as the next empowered woman.

 

“I know that conversations around self-care can sometimes be elitist and classist. Yoga classes can cost an average of $18 per session, and massages sometimes start at $70. Self-care can quickly become about who can afford to relax and release some tension. But costs don’t necessarily have to be a barrier to relaxation.” – Charmaine Lang 

Clinics like Denver Community Health Collective in Colorado offer monthly classes and affordable access to a number of holistic services like massage, acupuncture  and herb consultations for little to no charge.

 

One of my most favorite, most inexpensive ways to invest in myself and my community is by taking part in a drum circle or leading one around my neighborhood. 

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 For me, there is no elite way to slam on the drums and no better way to make mistakes while feeling totally supported to do so. Studies have even shown how drumming can reduce anxiety and depression and may even be “Better Than Prozac”.  

 

The Organic Valley ad campaign may not contribute to your weekly yoga tab or purchase your new djembe (RIP Remo Belli), but they do provide a voice for women in America to embrace their health and work-life routine as well as coupons for the 16g organic protein shakes, making eating organic a more affordable option. 

HUMANAUT

Describe your “Real Morning” Routine! How does it work for you?

Take the Organic Balance survey online at RealMorningReport.com to find out more about your work-life balance and what other women are saying about this ever-changing dynamic. 

 

HUMANAUT

 

1. Cohen, Claire. “Women! The Work-life Balance Myth Is Dead (and Here’s What’s Going to Replace It).” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 6 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

2. Lang, Charmaine. “Overworked and Underpaid: On Organizing, Black Womanhood, and Self-care.” Rewire. N.p., 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

3. Peeke, Pamela, MD, MPH. “Reduce Stress with Diet and Exercise | Food and Mood | HealthyWomen.” Reduce Stress with Diet and Exercise | Food and Mood | HealthyWomen. Healthy Women, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

4. Ding, Sara. “Understanding Enzymes – Juicing For Health.” Juicing For Health. N.p., 25 Mar. 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

5. “What’s At Stake For Women In This Election.” YouTube. Huffington Post, 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

6. Megan, Holohan. “See Where It Pays to Be a Parent (hint: It’s Not in the US).” TODAY.com. N.p., 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

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