According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, women are more likely to experience physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men are, and it is often due to women trying to balance work and family needs. This juggling act can also cause working moms to make errors when it comes to managing their physical well-being. Here's a list of the five biggest mistakes often made and how to correct them for optimal health in the future.
1. Staying up too late to work after the kids go to bed.
While understandable, especially if you have a deadline to meet, doing this will create additional stress for you, rob you of some downtime and will likely impact the quality of your sleep. If you must log back on, try to limit the time you spend working to no more than 20 minutes and just complete the most critical tasks or respond to the most pressing emails. After that, make a list of what you need to get done tomorrow, put your laptop away and stop working so you can unwind and get a good night’s sleep.
2. Taking the kids to the doctor for their check-ups, but skipping your own.
Your health is just as important as your children’s. To efficiently make your physical well-being a priority as well, schedule appointments with the doctor for the whole family during one phone call or online session. Even if everyone’s check-up timeframes are different, you can still look ahead at your calendar and get everyone booked at the same time. It also ensures you don’t skip your own appointments because you're too busy.
3. Multitasking like crazy, which leaves you feeling exhausted and less productive.
Working motherhood and multitasking tend to go hand in hand, but in reality, juggling several tasks all day, every day, can be incredibly exhausting and less productive for you. Your brain will be on overdrive if you try to do too many things at once and you’ll likely accomplish less and make mistakes. You’ll be far more effective if you develop a clear list of things you need to get done and tackle each one at a time. You’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment, have more energy and will feel much more clear-headed.
4. Having an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to exercise.
Making time for physical activity doesn't mean you have to go all out or dedicate a full hour at the gym. Have a more realistic attitude towards exercise and fit in whatever you can. If you can park a little farther away from your destination, take the stairs, do a 10-minute walk during lunch at work or a 20-minute online workout video or app at home before or after work, that’s better than nothing at all. These little workouts can really add up over time because consistency is often more important than the intensity and duration when you think about long-term health benefits.
5. Eating lunch at your desk and eating the kids' leftover scraps at home.
When hectic days arise, it’s often tempting to have meals while working instead of taking time to mindfully eat. It’s also tempting to finish whatever your kids don’t eat in addition to your own meal or instead of it. All of these scenarios result in improper nutrition for you. Rather than eating while you work, overeating or undereating at home, focus on your meal, your portion sizes and the content of your food for optimal nutrition every day. This is an important way to manage your weight, stress levels and overall health.
Life as a working mom is no doubt busy, but these small changes to these big health mistakes can make a significant difference in your physical wellness as well as your effectiveness both personally and professionally!
Reena Vokoun, founder of Passion Fit, graduated with a BBA in Marketing and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MS in Advertising and Communications from Boston University. She spent several years in corporate America working in marketing, sales and business development roles for companies such as Google, Yahoo, Reebok, GE, CNET and Grokker. She has also served as a certified health and wellness professional through the American Council on Exercise and Athletics and Fitness Association of America and as an award-winning ESPN Fitness Champion.
This article originally appeared on Working Mother.