Learn how small steps can boost time spent on self-care
A recent study by GreenShield revealed that women think they should spend one hour a day on their mental health, yet spend only half. In fact, they spend nearly seven times more taking care of others and on household chores. Women from diverse backgrounds and life circumstances struggle even more, with those who identify as part of a marginalized, racialized, or ethnic group spending 31 per cent less time on self-care activities than other women.
“Despite the best of intentions, when women prioritize everyone above themselves, it can create a negative impact on their health, their family, and their work,” says Harriet Ekperigin, Vice President of Mental Health, GreenShield.
“But, asking women to make this time, is complex and it’s not a one-size fits all solution.”
3 tips to prioritize your mental health
We know that telling women what they ‘should’ be doing can be counterproductive, putting pressure on them to do more when they’re already overextended. However, prioritizing yourself in digestible, customized ways can help boost the time you devote to self-care.
- Start small: While you may not feel like you have an extra hour in your day to fill with self-care and mental health, try carving out 15 to 20 minutes and build from there. Self-care might simply be a morning journal session or lunch-time walking break but taking time for yourself is not an indulgence, it’s an essential practice. Once established, you can work up to longer practices such as a one-hour talk therapy session.
- Know your worth: Women have been conditioned to believe they need to earn love and attention, often through serving others. Using affirmations such as positive “I am” statements and meditations to reframe internal dialogue can be a powerful tool in helping you understand you are worthy just as you are.
- Find the right therapist fit: One-size therapy does not fit all. Talking to someone who understands unique needs of women – especially those from marginalized and racialized communities – can be immensely helpful for one’s healing journey. When looking for a therapist, opt for a matching tool like the one from the GreenShield Cares program to ensure your therapist is right for you.
“We’re all familiar with the analogy of the flight attendant reminding passengers that in case of emergency, to put their oxygen mask on before putting one on their child. The metaphor has gone on to mean so much more,” says Ekperigin.
“For women, in particular, we must put ourselves ahead of anyone else to be able to care for those we love most. We’re on a mission to help at least 22,000 more women do that this year.”
This article contains guidelines or advice not intended to self-diagnose or treat. No content should be used as a substitute for direct advice from a qualified professional such as your doctor or mental health professional. Please reach out for support from a certified professional related to the symptoms you may be experiencing.
If you are in crisis and require immediate support, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Alternately, please contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7). For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553).