International Women’s Day is a global day of recognition that celebrates the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women and the work that still needs to be done.
That’s a lot to celebrate and consider in just one day, especially during a time in history when a global pandemic has left women carrying what has been referred to as the “shadow pandemic.”
The tremendous losses that women have disproportionately faced compared to their male counterparts this year is yet to be fully understood but it iss being felt by women across the globe. “The magnitude of inequality is striking”, suggests this article by McKinsey, noting that their analysis tied to gender inequality during the pandemic suggests that the “gendered nature of work across industries explains one-fourth of the difference between job-loss rates for men and women. The lack of systemic progress to resolve other societal barriers for women explains the rest”.
When considering this information, I didn’t have far to look for examples as inside my own industry, mental healthcare, the gender disparity is striking. Traditionally the profession of social work and the practice of psychotherapy has been performed by women, often under the presumption, and the great privilege, of helping. Despite training as skilled professionals, there is still a gender gap in the way society views and respects professions typically held by women who offer help (I’m looking at you, teachers, nurses, caregivers, child care workers…).
When I look at my professional colleagues and network, I see women and strong allies who are growing tired of trying to help in a system full of barriers and are continually told to do more, give more, and ask for less.
I’m watching my women-identified colleagues experience burnout from navigating providing care for others while now carrying the burden of the shadow pandemic themselves. I’m watching them engage in the unpaid labour of raising their children, supporting their loved ones and giving beyond their means. I’m watching this while I’m pregnant with my first child and due to give birth in two weeks. As a soon-to-be mother, to a son, what can I do to scream out for the helpers, for the women who are at higher risk during this pandemic and who have historically faced and continue to face significant societal barriers. How will I cope with the shadow pandemic, too?
I also watch women who love what they do, who have so much to give and who wouldn’t wish to work in any other profession, through simply being recognized for the work that they are doing and offered seats at leadership tables would be presumed to be unattainable.
I write this as a white cis-middle class woman and the question that’s on my mind is “now what?” I want to use my privilege for good. What can I do to change the perception of women’s work as simply “helping.” Helping is what keeps our economy moving but helping is also what perpetuates a disproportionate amount of male spokespeople on the screens and male leaders at the table.
It’s time to reframe the narrative of who we help, starting with helping ourselves.
When we take care of ourselves, we take better care of our clients. When our industry can take care of us, and prioritize what women have to say, we can have a larger impact overall and bridge existing gaps. This is no small feat and I don’t pretend to have the answers. I simply know that I want to challenge you to think about them with me.
In the years before now, I used to spend today sharing the quote, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them,” but today I stand here and tell you that we are already those women.
We are already strong. We’ve been strong. It’s not about being strong anymore, is it?
It’s about being valued, being equal, being given a voice and being seen.
I see you showing up today and every day. I see you showing your authentic self and supporting countless others in doing the same. It’s time for those sharing this world with women to make more space at the table.
Give us your seat. Give us your microphone. Stand in our shadows for just a second, and give us the room we need to change this world for the better.
Most people regularly schedule their therapy much like they do hair appointments. But are your mental health needs as consistent as your hair growth?
In this case, one size does not fit all. Good thing there are other approaches that deliver results! Shift is proud to partner with Maple to offer video sessions on demand so you can get support when you need it the most. It’s convenient and approachable support that fits your needs.
With on-demand sessions, the focus is on quality over quantity. It’s best to go into your session prepared. Follow these five strategies to get the most of your time!
1. Plan ahead
Prior to your session, think about what you want to cover. Spending the first ten or fifteen minutes making small talk while you consider what you want to talk about will cut into the time you have to actually dive into the issue.
2. Focus on one issue
While it can be tempting to try to talk about many related issues, on-demand sessions work best when you are able to identify a specific area to focus on. For ideas and examples of common topics addressed in on-demand sessions see this article on “What can be tackled in a single session”.
3. Set an agenda
Now that you’ve planned ahead and identified a key issue to talk about, it’s important to communicate this clearly to the therapist at the start of your session. By being direct at the onset you can make sure you focus on the issues that matter to you the most.
4. Focus on the now
When possible, try to focus on your current situation rather than your past experiences. Remember that your therapist is trained in short-term counselling and should be able to make sense of your story without needing extensive detail about your childhood or past experiences. Feel comfortable giving some information without detailed stories. For example, it can be helpful to say, “my parents’ divorce was very hard on me and I think it contributes to my issues with intimacy” or “I feel nervous with my team at work and believe it relates to being bullied in high school.” From there, you’ll be able to focus on your particular struggle today and how to best cope or address your concern.
5. Feel free to take notes
If anticipating there will be a lot covered, some people find it helpful to take notes either in their session or immediately afterwards. This will allow you to hold on to key insights you gained or helpful advice you received from the therapist.
Shift and Maple have partnered on our on-demand virtual therapy platform. Find out more and make an appointment here.
Many of us think of sleep as a luxury—something that we give to ourselves sparingly or even as a reward.
What’s important to remember is that sleep affects your health and mental wellness just as much as exercise, diet, etc. It affects learning, memory, mood, and even insight.
Are you cheating yourself out of a full 8-hours of sleep? Here are some of the benefits you’re missing:
There’s ample research on the correlation between sleep and memory. In fact, most scientists think that sleep embeds the things we’ve learned or experienced over the course of our day into our memories.
Learned something new? Want to store away that wonderful moment from your day forever? Sleep will help you retain that information.
Lack of sleep results in a lack of focus, impairing you to remember just where you placed your house keys. With so much of our mood associated with being able to get through the day without added stress, sleeping might help mitigate the stress and increase your mood.
Just like with memory, a sluggish mind means a lack of focus and a significant drop in productivity and comprehension. In youth, a lack of sleep often can result in hyperactivity or even the ability to focus in school.
3. Combatting Disease
One of the most recent breakthroughs in neuroscience is the realization that sleep actually keeps our brains healthy. Amyloid plaque is the sticky buildup that accumulates on the outside of nerve cells, creating beta-amyloid, which is toxic to our brains and now thought to be the cause of numerous brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
So, how does our body rid our brain of such damaging plaque? Sleep.
4. Psychiatric Disorder Deterrent
There’s an undeniable relationship between sleep and those who suffer from psychiatric disorders: they often don’t sleep. However, by ensuring 8 hours of sleep a night, things such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even ADHD often see an improvement of symptoms.
The verdict is in. If you’re not getting 8 hours of sleep, you’re not just missing out on benefits; you’re potentially setting your brain up for failure.
Some quick tips:
– No screens an hour before bedtime. That means no phone, iPad, computer or laptop, or TV. The blue light given off by our technological devices stimulates our bodies into thinking it’s still light outside and not time for bed.
– Consider taking Melatonin, a naturally occurring substance in your body that helps signal when it’s time to sleep. Unlike prescription sleep medications, melatonin is all-natural and non-addictive.
– Workout. If your body is tired, your mind will follow suit. Exercise not only improves your physical self but also your mental one.
– Meditate before bed. Finding your inner zen can help slow breathing and clear the mind, letting you fall into sleep easier than without it.