The art of creating a healthy work-life balance is difficult. As a woman, I am amazed at the strength and limitless energy we use to balance our personal and professional lives. From mothering to running a successful business, women can do it all and I became aware of this at a very early age.
I grew up in a household with a very strong woman, my mother. She had a full-time job and was also an elected official in our community. I can recall knocking on doors at age nine and telling people to vote for my mom. I also remember weekends where I would sit and play while she answered questions from constituents. When she lost the race for School Board Representative, she held her head up high and told me it was not a failure, just an opportunity to serve in another way.
For me, serving meant becoming a lawyer and providing a voice for voiceless. I began my legal career as a public defender and a public policy attorney focused on criminal justice reform and economic development. Five years into my legal career, I felt burnt out. I was tired, stressed, and devoid of energy.
At the end of 2017, I became very sick one evening. I assumed I was getting a virus, so I took some medicine and laid down. The next morning, I woke up in pain and with double vision. I was also dizzy and nauseous. Luckily, I had a routine doctor appointment scheduled for that day. When I arrived at the office, my doctor sent me straight to the emergency room for dehydration. When he asked me to pinpoint the last time I had water, I was embarrassed to say I could not recall. I spent the rest of the day rehydrating and slept for what felt like an eternity over that weekend.
At that time, I realized something needed to change. Either I was going to take care of myself, or my body would give out on me.
To re-balance, I began setting weekly self-care goals. My major goals included increasing water intake, journaling, exercising, and setting intentional relaxation time. I also vowed that one day of the weekend would be purely devoted to me: no job, no volunteer activities—just me.
In the beginning, I struggled. Even now, I struggle. This past year, I served as Chair of the Young Lawyers Division for the National Bar Association. I also served as Recording Secretary for the DC Ward 5 Democrats, and as co-Chair of the Issues and Programming Committee for the DC Democratic State Committee. Between my work obligations and volunteer obligations, I barely had time for self-care. Often, I would get home, eat, and fall asleep before my face hit the pillow.
Now, I am working to recalibrate again!
So, for those women recalibrating today, it is okay. There is no magic recipe for self-care. As our personal and professional careers evolve, we must realign. Take pride in knowing your capacity and slowly integrating or modifying your self-care routine.
Perhaps you start by taking a walk during a break or listening to music on the way home. Starting slowly will allow you to carefully craft a routine that can evolve with your needs. For example, my evolution includes podcasts. From culture to politics to history, you can find a podcast that speaks to you. I often listen to podcasts by female entrepreneurs who candidly discuss the difficulties they face in their personal and professional environments and how they overcome those obstacles.
I also began meditating a few months ago. My current ritual is ten minutes of meditation in the morning and ten minutes of meditation right before going to sleep. It allows time for quiet reflection. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is to figure out what works for you and your interests. Have you always wanted to sculpt? If so, explore that. Are you intrigued by the winemaking process? If so, take a class on the art of wine. As women, we can (and often) do it all, but we do not have to do it all.
Take time for self-care and remember to be kind to your body and mind.