Relax & Recharge: Work-Life Balance Advice From 12 Successful Women
The American Psychological Association just released its annual Stress in America report. At work, and in general, the study says, women are feeling the pressures of stress far more than their male counterparts. And Millennials (ages 18-33) and Gen Xers (ages 34-47) report experiencing the most stress and least relief.
Taken together, these findings mean that younger women—like yours truly—officially share the not-so-official (and most unbecoming) title of Most Stressed Out Crazy People in the World Ever.
I love my job at PureWow, a women's lifestyle publishing company. I work with amazing women, I meet smart people every day, and I’m building a brand that makes people genuinely happy. But success at a startup often means working until midnight, giving up Sundays, and generally accepting that my to-do list just won’t get “to-done.”
And I know I’m not alone. Work. Money. FOMO. Health. Job stability. The fear of disappointing the people we respect. Family. Bills. The masochistic pursuit of work-life balance. Relationships. And so on. Life and all of its stresses just add up.
And while we might not be able to make those stressors go away, we can take care of ourselves so that we’re better equipped to handle them. To get started, I've asked some of my favorite (and equally chronically stressed) female Millenials and Gen Xers for their advice on relaxing, unwinding, and squeezing in some much-needed “me” time into a crazy schedule. Here’s what they had to say.
I get a mani/pedi with a close friend every other Sunday. No matter what else comes up, we have committed to those times together and do our absolute best to stick with it. Making time for the people closest to us can be difficult, but it's infinitely rewarding.
—Ashley Waghorne, Executive Account Director at Flavorpill
My company has a gym in its building, and I try my best to make yoga or spin class every day. Leaving my desk for 30 minutes of physical activity is like hitting the "reset" button when I'm overwhelmed by my to-do list or have major writer's block. Plus, the gym is a kick-ass brainstorming environment: Some of my best stories have come from hashing out an idea with a co-worker on the elliptical.
—Maura Kutner, Web Editor at Seventeen
I travel a substantial amount, so not only do I find myself coming and going (and perpetually at the dry cleaner asking for rushed orders), but I also attempt to juggle time to catch up with friends, leaving free time to myself the last priority. So I try to go to a weekend brunch by myself at least once a month. It forces me to slow down and relax while enjoying a nice meal.
—Carrie Coulson, Director at a private equity firm
I couldn't hate a phrase more than "me time," but with time passing faster now than it did before, I've found if I don't literally put pen to paper (or create a Google calendar appointment) and carve out an hour for myself, it never happens. So that's what I do. I literally invite myself to manicures or an extra 20 minutes in bed, and I've been known to take myself out for a Manhattan once in a while, too. (I'm a great date.) And my new rule: I'm not allowed to cancel on myself. It may not be living life by the seat of your pants, but it sure is rewarding.
—Mary Kate McGrath, Editor in Chief at PureWow
Join a group of some kind, like a book club. It forces me to make time to read, and I'm far less likely to flake on a group get-together. It also puts me in a group of people completely outside of my industry, which is a nice mental break.
—Eliza Blank, Founder of The Sill
I try to carve a little time for myself every day—to have my much-needed coffee (which I always make at home so I'm not rushing out), to go work out, to read, or just to stay in bed and daydream. I'll also sneak out and meet a friend for lunch ("me time" also means seeing friends), catch a quick yoga class, and plan ahead so I have at least one night a week where I can cook in, go to the movies, or grab a glass of wine in the ’hood.
—Carolina Santos-Neves, Partner & Chef de Cuisine at Comodo
In my industry of public relations, live television, and events, it's hard to find "me" time unless I actually schedule it into my calendar—even if it’s only 15 minutes during a lunch break. When anyone is cranky (just like a baby) it's either due to being sleepy, hungry, or feeling lonely. So, amid the chaos, time zones, weird work hours, and non-stop list of things to do, I try to squeeze in a quick nap, snack on something delicious, and call a loved one or great friend.
—Anna Velasco, Founder & Director at Banana Public Relations & Event Management
When my baby was five months old, my husband and I decided to sleep train him (which basically meant letting him cry it out for three nights in a row). Those nights were extremely hard, but the upside has been nothing short of amazing. Not only do I know that each night from 7:30 PM to 6:30 AM I'll have time to do whatever I want—eat dinner with my husband, catch up on email, watch House of Cards—but our son is so much more rested and in all around better spirits. I know sleep training can be controversial, but as a working parent, I have no doubt it was one of the best things I've done for myself, my relationship, and my baby.
—Dorothy McGivney, Founder of Jauntsetter
Prioritizing time for ourselves has been a really hard thing for us to do. We have resulted to becoming calendar addicts—blocking out specific time on our work calendars for going to the gym or just taking a much-needed break. Friday afternoons past a certain time—let's be honest—are not productive. We try to call it quits on the early side and take a break from email for most of the weekend.
—Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin, Co-founders of theSkimm
I keep energy bars in my car so that I can never skip a sport or activity—those things I really love and that make me happy—for reason of being hungry.
—Jenna Hannon, User Acquisition at Fanhattan
I make chores second priority to friends. If putting off laundry or unpacking my suitcase from a work trip for another day (or seven), means I get to join friends for brunch, it is so worth it. Clean clothes are nice, but my friends keep me sane and happy.
—Jolie McKay, Sales Director at Joor
Mornings are my time. Going for runs in my awesome neighborhood, reading in the backyard with a cup of coffee, and hiking in L.A.'s Griffith Park are the ways I relax and refocus before my workday starts.
—Chrissy Stuart, Director of Licensing at Beggars Music
What do you do to manage stress? Tell us below.
Alexis Anderson is the director of marketing and partnerships at PureWow, a daily lifestyle email and website targeted at Gen-X women. She's a Kansas transplant with a Canadian passport and loves traveling, wine, South Africa, farmers markets and Jayhawk basketball. Add Alexis on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter at@alexisea.More from this Author