Advice and tips from the SA Woman Collective Plus Community.

Self-care is often touted as the antidote to feelings of burnout or unrelenting sickness. “Take the time to rest and recover”, is the advice given by doctors, families and friends when someone catches a cold or is feeling the stress of their business or career. Fundamentally, this makes sense. Our bodies are working so hard to fight the illness or the stress that adding in the physical and mental load of a job, a family, a clean house and general unreasonable societal pressures leaves us stuck in a cycle of feeling stressed and unwell. However, we are balancing so many roles and responsibilities that the challenge of taking time off to recover is likely to leave us feeling worse than when we began.

This was the conversation in our Collective Plus Members Group recently.

  • How can we recover from stress, burnout, illnesses, etc when we are relied on so heavily in every aspect of our lives?
  • Even if we can spread the load and organise all the help needed to keep our jobs/families/lives running, how can we fund all of these services if we are taking time away from earning an income – first while we are sick and then to fully recover?
  • How do we adjust to a diagnosis that is going to mean lifestyle changes and more mental load than we are already holding onto?
  • How are other women in the same position finding the space to balance their lives and focus on healing as a priority?

Our members jumped in immediately with some fantastic advice and genuine practical suggestions for managing this stress without breaking the bank. They also showed us that an overwhelming number of women are in the same position. We are bombarded with ways to get ahead of the stressors in our lives, but they all seem to rely on the burnt-out women fixing their own problems and finding their own solutions. Where is the community support?

It is reminiscent of this post that does the rounds on social media every now and then:

While not everyone is a mum trying to do it all, the same messaging applies to women in business, or women getting ahead in a tricky industry, or women caring for aging parents or family members who are unwell. The overarching feeling is that women should figure it out and do it on their own.

This blog of ideas is not really any different from the outset – these are tips, words of advice and words of solidarity provided as self-helping measures and not grand societal changes. But the more we talk about this and share the tips that worked for us, the more women will see that practical support and compassionate understanding are the number one ways we can be there for each other.

We have always firmly believed that women and girls cannot be what they cannot see. This started as a guiding mantra for showcasing the variety of workplaces, career paths, and business journeys that women follow. However, this is just as applicable to solidarity around the struggles we face, the hard choices we must make, the setbacks we endure, and the practical ways we make it through. These are the sides to life that we need to talk loudly about, not to alleviate suffering altogether, but to realise just how many women are in our corner and to find the strength to come together and make enough noise to create lasting societal impact and change.

So for now, these tips rely on advocating for yourself and your needs, but the more we discuss our struggles and are open with our challenges, the more we will find the network around us ready and willing to jump in and help before we reach that crisis or breaking point.

  • “If someone offers to help, take it. They get as much out of feeling like they are making a difference in someone’s lives as you get something you need.” Michelle

  • “For me to get back on track was work life balance, resting when my body tells me and early nights, sleep is absolutely essential, this is my little tip.” Nicole

  • “I always find it’s about what you squeeze out first rather than what you squeeze in.” Tamsin
  • “Sunlight before screen light in the morning. Move your body through the day, 3 x 10 minute walks is a great place to start. Reduce stress where you can, and include practices that help cope with stress in the body, like long hugs, meditation, yoga, breathing and grounding. Practice self-compassion, it all takes time.” Lucy

  • “I love the 30 mins rest in the middle of the day. I often do this on the back lawn in the sun, grounding, just BEING. Total rest, replenish, reconnect, reset. you don’t have to DO everything, or anything, remind yourself of this.” Toni

  • “Do a list of everything in your life and then cull. There will be things you don’t think you can let go of but honestly, will it matter in 5 years if you don’t do or have them, because your health will.” Jo-anne
  • “Remember, when you have been sick you haven’t been doing nothing. Your body has been fighting a war, so it needs rest and nourishment to deal with that. That is normal and you deserve rest. Capitalism and hustle bullshit has made it seem selfish. It isnt. You got this. One toe at a time” Meredith

  • “Walk, just walk for exercise. Take the kids on a walk, park the car further away and walk, walking is good for the mind and body. Every weekend take a few hours of active family time that us not negotiable, go hiking, go to the beach, play ball in the park.” Stephanie

  • “Just put it out there and explicitly call upon your village for help. Ask for people to be your village. Don’t wait until you are in dire straits. Ask for help now so you can carve time to rest, recover, and recuperate, even if it feels selfish, even if you can’t pay (can you trade, or just accept free help), even if it’s hard to ask.” Karen
  • “Surround yourself with a group of ladies who you can all support each other and help each other.” Stephanie

  • “Small changes, consistently have been my saviour. Using a habit tracker app on my phone prompts me to remember to take supplements, do the things that I’ve been recommended by my specialists.” Linja

  • “If you can sneak in an hour or even 30 mins of down time in the afternoon before the kids get home, prioritise that. Shoes off, feet up, eyes shut, deep breathing. It’s amazing how that little bit of midday rest can help.” Helen

  • “Be kind to yourself. Let some commitments go even if you like them.” Catherine

Did any of these thoughts and words of advice resonate with you? Is there something else you would add?

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