Nepal | January 17, 2019

Resolution for 2019: Balance work with life

Dr Aruna Uprety

Self-care can be practised in many forms through the way we treat ourselves: the time we give and dedicate ourselves to work and rest; the energy and space we dedicate to undressing and dislodging the knots that we carry from our daily struggles. When we learn to give ourselves quality time and attention we can be healthy and happy and make contribution to society that will last long

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Many women heath and right activists are too busy to maintain their own health. After a point of time their body gives up; and then they start to visit doctors and yoga gurus for treatment. Only if they would have taken care of their health while working, many problems could have been avoided.

Why do women activists have time for others’ problems and health issues but no time to care for themselves?

Many even when they are sick continue their work. In the long run they ruin their own health.  Back pain, knee pain, overweight, mental stress and anxiety become part of their life and they have to stop to work. If someone asks them why they do not pay attention to their own health, most of them have the same answer:  “Too busy”. How can one carry out one’s work, activism, teaching if one is sick?

I feel that women – whether they are activists or actors or leaders or office-goers or homemakers – must manage time for self-care. Activities, such as, dancing, exercising, yoga, singing also help enjoy life.  Work-life balance is extremely necessary for all, and even more for the women activists.

We are so focused on “achieving more” that we often end up jeopardizing our health and, later on our career because we work without proper rest.

Not long ago, I met one health and human rights activist. She was walking with difficulty because she was having backache.

Clearly, the backache was a result of working on the computer and long working hours. Her commitments, she said, wouldn’t allow her to rest. Reports, training and travel within and outside of the country were already lined up for the next few weeks, she said.

After some time she informed some of her friends and me that she was going to leave her hectic work as it was not possible for her to continue the job. Apparently, she was “ordered” by her doctor to have a long rest. She also had to stop working on the computer as her wrists hurt badly. She could not fly long hours nor was she able to walk properly. “I am depressed and do not know what to do. I wish I had taken care of my health when I was working.  I should have listened to my friends who had suggested me stopping working, when sick and take rest.  Now I am paying the price for my negligence to my mental and physical health. I am not sure If I will be able to work actively again”.  She is one of a few women in Nepal, who is successful, has created her own space in society but while working very hard to achieve something, did not pay attention to her own physical and mental health. She did not have time for exercise and yoga, let alone playing or walking or running for fun. She was too busy. The situation is completely reverse now.

We, women, forget that self-care and wellness is also a leadership issue and associated with our confidence. Perhaps we are less confident about ourselves, we want to work more. We tend to forget stress from work and fatigue contributes to a lack of wellbeing and develops in us rather unhealthy lifestyle like overeating, craving for junk food, drinking a lot of coffee and tea, taking sleeping pills at night. We just have no time for a walk or rest in between our long working hours and social/ professional commitments. In the long run, our obsessions to achieve more only make us more unhappy. Worse, it’s often hard to come out of this situation. So what is the solution? Let’s take a new year resolution for “Self-care”

I understand that it mean to commit ourselves to work better without sacrificing other important parts of our professional life. Self-care can be practised in many forms through the way we treat ourselves: the time we give and dedicate ourselves to work and rest; the energy and space we dedicate to undressing and dislodging the knots that we carry from our daily struggles. When we learn to give ourselves quality time and attention as much as we do to our professional work and activism, we can be healthy and happy and make a contribution to society that will last long. Long time ago, I had read a book “What is the point of revolution if we cannot dance?

This book taught me that it is very important to take care of oneself to be mentally and physically fit in every condition. Ever since I have taken care of myself without feeling guilty and I tell my friends, women relatives and colleagues to eat properly, rest enough and enjoy without having any guilt. In any case, what is the point, no matter what we achieve after struggle, if we cannot dance freely, if we cannot sing aloud, or if we cannot walk without pain, if we cannot sleep properly?

So, how about this resolution: Come 2019, we women will take care of our health and maintain a good balance between work and life?


A version of this article appears in print on December 31, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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