Motherhood is one of the biggest challenges women can face. Not only does it bring about new roles, routines and the responsibility of caring for another person, but it also has an irreversible effect on individual identity.
Such changes in how women feel about themselves and their daily experiences can be a lot to get used to and take a toll on an individual’s mental health over time. That is why Maternal Mental Health Month (1st – 31st May) was created to raise awareness about the impact motherhood can have on mental health and wellbeing and to encourage open conversation around it.
Balancing motherhood with work adds another level of complexity to everyday life. Holding down a job whilst also caring for children is, for many, a financial necessity and sometimes an outlet to pursue their ambitions outside being a parent. However, it can be stressful, full-on and tiring. So, how can businesses step up to make sure they are supporting the working mothers within their ranks? Several experts, and co-authors of a new book, Success Secrets for Wellbeing, weigh in on what employers can be doing to support their mental health.
Introduce safe spaces for conversations
Making safe spaces available to check on the wellbeing of employees is vital. After all, happy staff have a positive ripple effect within an organisation. For mothers, these safe spaces are essential opportunities to feel heard and voice their potential struggles. Communication and facilitator specialist Kate Faragher, who has developed her methodology to create safe spaces for difficult conversations, says:
“A way of making wellbeing conversations easier is normalising them. When you have regular wellbeing spaces, people bring up the unsaid, unconscious biases, the discomfort and the difficulties without judgement, pity, rescuing or avoidance strategies. They are more productive when someone feels safe, listened to, and their needs are met.”
Make human-centric systems a necessity
Even though more companies are putting their people at the heart of their organisations, there is still a long way to go. All women are an integral part of the workforce. Therefore, regardless of their status as a mother or not; their personal and individual needs should always be considered and prioritised when establishing new strategies or goals.
Deborah Abbott, a speaker and facilitator in leadership and organisational culture, has a mission to bring the human spirit into organisations, enabling leaders and their teams to tap into their collective intelligence and wisdom.
“Whilst we are seeing a subtle rise in organisations driven by people and purpose, most organisations can’t seem to break out of their bottom-line mindset and begin making strategic decisions from a people standpoint. It is those who keep course-correcting their organisational culture with a genuine concern for the wellbeing of their employees who are in the winning game. High-performing cultures are those that actively champion human-centric systems,” says Deborah.
Promote holistic dentistry
For pregnant and postpartum mothers, good physical health is an essential part of feeling mentally well. The body is interconnected, and often the issues we think least of can have the biggest impact on a person’s overall health. For example, poor oral health is sometimes overlooked, but it is linked to many chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Dr Elmar Jung is a best-selling author who works with chronically ill clients and health-focused individuals to support them in achieving, maintaining and advancing their health and wellbeing with real dentistry, balanced nutrition and Bio-Photon Therapy. He says that holistic dentistry offers an integrative and thoughtful approach to improving one’s overall wellbeing to keep employees healthy and feeling their best. As employers, businesses can promote the importance of good dental health and provide practical support such as dental care benefits.
“Chronic stress from the mouth and jaw can disrupt the body in several ways, leading to blockages and dysregulation. If your regulatory system is out of balance due to toxicity
or blocked energy flow, degenerative diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease as well as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Lyme’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are far more likely to develop,” Dr Jung explains.
It’s been said that our mind can control our health, wealth and happiness because of how we communicate with ourselves. For example, feeling overwhelmed and stressed is often reflected in physical health. Author Owen O’Malley believes that nothing has any meaning in this world but the meaning we choose to give it. So, to offer employees space to feel calm and positive at their own pace, it’s helpful to encourage mindful techniques and practices, even if it can seem like there is no time in the day to try them.
“The key tool to master your mind is to practice meditation, whereby you first observe, then label and, ultimately, control your thoughts. What you broadcast with your thoughts shows up in your life. You are constantly vibrating and broadcasting with every cell and antenna in your body. How you vibrate determines what appears in your life,” Owen says.
Express gratitude and kindness
Organisations should always be looking for ways to create a happy and fulfilling place to work. From offering a small journal to all employees to encourage expressing their feelings of gratitude to reinforcing random acts of kindness, a conscious effort on the part of businesses can go a long way in improving the health and wellbeing of staff. This is especially important for mothers for whom the workplace may be where they feel most themselves or is a welcome break from the responsibilities of being a parent.
Business mentor, educator and speaker Michael-Don ‘Don’ Smith works with individuals and organisations to develop personal and business effectiveness, focusing on human communication skills and modern leadership. Michael says:
“Your gifts are many and unique; your potential is limitless, there is only one of you, and the infinite, eternal universe will never ever get the chance to do you again.”
For mothers, affirming what they already know about themselves but can often forget is an important part of caring for their wellbeing. As employers, providing tools and the setting for individuals to do that is sometimes one of the most valuable ways they can support the mothers working for them.
Written by ‘Co-authors of ‘Success Secrets for Wellbeing.’