Self Care is Critical to Our Success
Today I started my day with a few sprints, squats with a 20-pound and 40-pound weight, some stair climbing and a little bit of light wrestling. This lovely little workout took place before 7 am and if it sounds extraordinary, it is not. In fact is quite boring in it’s routine and likely something, if you have small children as I do, you also did this morning. It was simply the daily workout of motherhood that takes place every morning as I get my 4-year-old and 1-year-old ready for the day.
This daily sweat is juxtaposed with long sedentary lulls where my heart rate slows and my posture melds into the shape of my office chair (a.k.a. dining chair) or seat of my car because not only am I a mom, I am a mompreneur. I am part of that special club whose 9 to 5 coexists somewhere between temper tantrums and boardrooms and my body takes the brunt of both.
What I have failed to mention is that I am also a physiotherapist and it is my business to fix bodies like mine. Bodies that give themselves to their passions at their own expense.
Along the way, I have learned a few things about the physical repercussions from the sprints and marathons of motherhood and entrepreneurship and they are not dissimilar. In most cases, like most injuries I treat, the aches and pains come from a lack of training, over-exuberance and poor self-care.
The good news is that the treatment for the strains of both share some common themes and with a bit of consciousness can make each more comfortable. Here are a few things I’ve learned to keep your body at it’s best to succeed in both worlds.
It’s all about the posture
Whether you are picking up a squirming toddler or sitting at your computer, good posture will decrease the load of both. Aim for sitting and standing postures that keep your spine in a normal curvature instead of slumping forward. Keep your shoulders back, your head up and your feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep things close to your body (toddler or mouse) and avoid long reaches or repetitive twisting.
Movement is key to maintaining good muscle strength, good circulation and reducing the stress of static postures. You may not think you have the time for a dedicated workout but I would argue that everyone can fit 30 minutes of movement into their day. Exercise has been shown to increase productivity, enhance mood and improve fatigue, all common complaints of my mompreneurs.
I frequently work with my clients to sneak movement into their days where they previously felt too overwhelmed or too busy. That might look like getting off the subway one stop early before a meeting or going for a 20-minute power walk when you drop your child off at an activity. Regardless of the strategy, clients are most successful when they find ways to integrate movement into their schedule instead of viewing it as an additional task.
More and more, studies are showing that stress, whether positive or negative, has a physical impact on our bodies. While we can often cope with bouts of stress, our nervous systems were not designed for the continuous stress that is often associated with carrying the double load of running a business and family. This constant stimulation of your nervous system can cause muscle tightness, chronic pain and poor sleep.
Breathing is a great way to downregulate your nervous system. It also gets oxygen to tense muscles and helps to mobilize your diaphragm. The best part is that it is simple and can be done anywhere. Next time you are feeling stressed, try stepping away from the task at hand and practice deep breathing for 2 to 5 minutes.
Get HelpIt is no secret that women often put their own healthcare needs last while supporting their families. This is, even more, the case for the entrepreneur who works off hours and gives her free time to business development. Unfortunately, when we sweep our own healthcare needs under the family rug, we put our own ability to care for others at risk.
If you feel like something is amiss with your health or your body, get it checked out sooner than later. It is the more effective and economical way to prioritize your health. Problems left unchecked can result in chronic aches and pains or missed issues that could otherwise be easily treated.
Being a mom and creating a business that both supports my family and fuels my ambition have been my greatest joys. That doesn’t take away from the fact that both are hard and challenge my body with their demands. Taking time to care for myself, mind and body, make me better at both. It is time we stopped looking at self-care as an indulgence but rather a critical component of our success.
Melanie Sutherland is the owner and senior physiotherapist at RPM Physiotherapy in the Junction, with a passion for caring for moms through all stages of motherhood and is certified in spinal manipulation and pelvic floor physiotherapy. Along with her husband, she is chief assistant and organizer to her two young children. She can often be found desperately trying to fit in a run or a workout, pretending to work at local coffee shops or commiserating in solidarity with other mompreneurs over a glass of wine before her 9 pm bedtime.