Uneasiness lies the woman who's a superwoman!

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 15:28 IST

Come what may, it is important for the women of today to have some time for themselves, especially because they tend to forget themselves, writes
Mala Ashok.

“I have always been a good daughter, a good student, a good wife, a good professional and a good mother. In the bargain I forgot all about me. Now it is time for me and all about me.”   (from an Ad)

The role of a woman in her home and society has changed and woman has evolved with this changing need – from a dependent, clinging person to a superwoman. 

How do women cope with this role and how does a woman treat herself when coping?  Is a woman so intent on breaking the glass ceiling while fulfilling her domestic role that she does not look after herself? The big question for women these days is, “Do you have any me time, and how do you spend it?”

It was the Silicon Valley both in California and in Metros in India that this role-changing first started in a huge way and it is in Silicon Valley that gender wars have erupted lately.

Marissa Mayer, the ex Google, now CEO of Yahoo has come to the forefront of the gender wars with her diktat to Yahoo employees barring telecommuting or “working from home.”  This edict was greeted with an uproar all over the world but with a bit of quiet introspection, women all over the world will realize that Ms. Mayer has done them a huge favour.

Why is this?  Women who work at home oftentimes end up working 24x7 while also juggling childcare or other housekeeping roles and end up totally burnt out. 

Concentrating on the job at set hours when they are at the office, returning home, and spending set hours with family gives them some hope of some “me-time.”

Why do women not have me-time?  Most often, women do too much for too many people ending up forgetting themselves in the bargain. If your schedule includes everybody but you, you are one of those guilty of not having any “me time,” which is so necessary for your well being.

In order to allow yourself some free time you have to first acknowledge that “busy” does not necessarily mean “better.” You may be busy at work but learn to say no. This applies both to your boss and to your family. Remember spreading yourself too thin will endanger not only your health but also the quality of your services in your other roles.

Spend some time by yourself periodically to rejuvenate yourself.  I know one friend who is a caregiver for her husband suffering from a progressively degenerating illness.  She makes it a point once a year to take off completely from her care-giving role, leave her husband with professional caregivers, and takes a special holiday to some place she has not been before.  Many of her friends raise eyebrows at this unusual behaviour but she pays no heed.  After this special me time she is better equipped to look after her husband.

Creating “me time” is an attitudinal step. For example if you find a 500 Rupee note in an old handbag, what would you do? Spend on kids or your spouse? Treat yourself to some time at a Spa? Use it to pay bills? If you chose the second option, congratulations, you are well on the way to creating “me-time”!

While the above examples are instances of taking occasional breaks, it is very important that you do this regularly. It is not a matter of how much time you spend on just being you but rather the quality of the time you spend.

 For example you could relax by taking an extra long shower or shutting the door to your room and nestle with a good book.

One of the best ways to obtain free time for yourself is to allocate your “me-time” wisely, and then the free time follows naturally. For example, if you have a self-care ritual everyday such as meditation, exercise, or just being alone with your thoughts at a set time, you’ll notice how much you look forward to this time out; others too will respect your “me-time”. It is at this point that I hear many women readers saying, “I just don’t have the time for this kind of ritual.” Truth is, you cannot afford not to have me-time!  You can start making time by just one action – turn off your phone. This is a huge culprit in making your workday 24x7. When you have your me time don’t let your phone be a part of it; unless you are spending this time chatting with your sister, mother, or close friend to unwind. If you have bought into the argument that me-time is important, let’s look at some things to do with me-time. The most obvious thing to do would be to exercise. For some reason we have begun to associate exercise with expensive gym memberships. This is not necessarily true. Walking is a great form of exercise and comes free. To add to the pleasure you can join a walking group.

Another relatively inexpensive activity is to join a book club. You will not only enjoy reading but also meet people who share your interest. Here again, you could extend the meeting by going out for coffee with someone you enjoy sharing ideas with. In this context you may find that journalizing or entering your thoughts in a journal will not only relax you but also be a source of ideas, should you want to indulge in writing or even entreprenuerial ventures perhaps.

It is not important that me-time be organized or structured. Just forgetting about your responsibilities, and “chilling” (as teenagers say), will be very refreshing and go a long way in beating out the stress you suffer from being a superwoman!

(Published 22 March 2013, 14:02 IST)

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