A Space of One’s Own

deskLast year, my husband managed to shoehorn a small IKEA desk over a radiator in our bedroom to create my “home office”, my space, my escape.  Ah! What JOY!  I soon added my calendar, my pictures, my stuff.

The demands on women increase daily whether from our relationships, our work or our families and we need to develop personal strategies to incorporate physical and emotional space in our lives.

Physical Space

1. Find a space in your home you can retreat to that makes you feel relaxed.  Maybe you like to hide out in the bathroom to shower or bathe.  Perhaps you enjoy being alone in the kitchen cooking.  Explore places that makes you feel most comfortable and then personalize them.

2.  Find your favorite physical spaces to go to outside the home to clear your head – perhaps the gym, the library or a coffee shop.

Emotional Space

1.  Tell the people around you when you need a break.  If you take a 10 minute break from work to get some fresh air, you will feel better and it will increase your productivity.  Tell the people in your household or outside family that you need some time alone.  Give yourself a “time out” from your kids.

2.   Do you have any hobbies? Lose yourself in playing or listening to music or knitting or painting.  Sports are also a great emotional release.

3.  Become ensconced in a book or movie.

4. Immerse yourself in nature by gardening, hiking or wandering through the park.

5. Practice meditation – as little as ten minutes a day can provide restorative energy to the brain.

Experiment with these strategies and develop new ones.  Don’t be shy about demanding your space, your improved mood will benefit you and those around you.

This article is also published at www.myculturemagazine.com

I get by with a little help from my friends…

mnn2SRkSome stress is a part of life and can even motivate us to do our best – like the rush you get before a show or a presentation at work.  But when stress reaches high levels it is dangerous to our health and can paralyze us from making positive changes in our lives.

So here’s my advice for combating stress. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to your female friends for love, support and just plain fun.  It’s easy for me to correlate times in my life when I was happier and less stressed with the quality and/or quantity of my female friends.  As a girl, I had a best friend for years named Lizzie and that meant I always had someone to sit with at lunch or to go ice-skating with or to just watch The Brady Bunch.  Not to mention sleepovers – if those aren’t the cat’s pajamas, I don’t know what is.

I also remember the emptiness I felt the first year at Connecticut College because I had no friends, or how depressing it was to be isolated in my early years as a Stay-at-home Mom. Friends are that important.

There is even evidence that we live longer when we have strong female friendships. In this article on women’s friendships ,  they site research in the area of friendships such as how in The Tending Instinct, Shelly Taylor found women’s relationships and need for community is based in our DNA and can also be seen by studying animals.

A study at UCLA School of Medicine discovered that when we’re with our female friends, we emit a “feel good” hormone called oxytocin that helps us reduce everyday stress.

A study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. This is critical to understanding how self-image develops in girls and women.

 Most importantly, Haupart states that, Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.”

Unfortunately, with our fast-paced digital society, women’s friendships are on the decline while stress levels in women are in the increase.  Try to reconnect with friends in your life.  Be open to new friendships. 

I have a friend from Italy and she makes green tea in a pot on a tray with china cups and puts out light flakey buttery cookies. It’s a welcome and refreshing approach to catching up with a friend.

So meet a friend for tea, to get your nails done, or see a movie.  I have learned that above all one thing is clear:  We Need Each Other.

This article is also published in the Wellness section of myCulturemagazine