The train was packed this morning. Not enough room to read the paper. Trying to zone out by visualising a distant beach where this heat would be pleasant when the slurping broke through my reverie. A smartly dressed business woman standing beside me was eating a yoghurt. There was no room to read a newspaper but she managed to wield her spoon. She then followed that with a bag of extremely crunchy muesli, eaten by the handful. Not aesthetically pleasing. I sensed all our disapproval as a cloud around her. (Admittedly it wasn’t as bad as the guy eating ‘not just any squid but you know who’s’ on a very hot commuter train on a recent evening but still…)
The more I thought about it the more I wanted to ask her about a life where she really believed she couldn’t take the time for a breakfast that she could have eaten at her own kitchen table in 5 -10 minutes. It must have taken that long to assemble and pack the contents for her train picnic. It is easy to get caught up in the urgency of the day. She had quite possibly done a day’s work before hitting the train. Most women do – beds are made, children dressed, packed lunches sorted, washing put on, homework found, school drop off sorted, clothes found, hair done, bags packed. With all those balls in the air, it is hard to look after yourself properly and to set up good, life enhancing habits. I bet she was ravenous by 11 a.m. because she had no time to savour and acknowledge the food she had eaten earlier. I wanted to ask her to reflect on how she was caring for herself so that she had the resilience for the day ahead but I didn’t feel it was the ideal setting for a confidential conversation! It could also have felt like another burden on top of her challenging day. So if you want to be a strong woman with resilient habits here are a few tips.
Doing any one of them will improve your mental and physical health and give you increased stamina. Each step is small but packs a powerful punch.
Build your mental strength: – Remind yourself of your strengths first thing every day (you don’t know what they are? Oops! Start there then) – Visualise success in the day as you brush your teeth every morning – those two minutes will make a difference to your smile in more ways than one – As you get into bed think of the best thing that happened that day – fall asleep smiling. It’s better for the wrinkles than worrying or possibly even that expensive night cream
Build your physical strength: – Breathe! It’s a habit worth forming for as long as possible. Slow down your out breath in a long sigh while you do e-mails. It gets the blood gases back into kilter making you calm – Download our free relaxation MP3 and use it – Get outside for a 10 minute walk
Build better habits: – Ask for help/for others to do their share – perhaps starting with Christmas? It won’t be as perfect. Deal with it! Delegate at home and work. You will notice men don’t think twice about people helping them- Mothers, wives, PAs, teams. – Have no doubt: you are, in fact, already superwoman.
Rest on your laurels for a bit – Do NOT, on any account, eat a slurpy breakfast on my commuter train or I may feel duty-bound to coach you! There’s much more serious stuff you can do to increase your resilience but any single one of these 9 actions will make a difference within a week. And the next four weeks are going to present increased challenges to many.
Written by Averil Leimon, Leadership Psychologist & Executive Coach