Women who work from home

Working from Home is Here to Stay. 7 Tips to Ensure Women in the Workplace Thrive

Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world. -Tian Wei, CCTV News

It’s becoming clear that the global pandemic is quickly turning into an economic crisis for women with unemployment rates rising to numbers not seen since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate for women stands at an unprecedented 15.5%, the first time ever that U.S. women have faced a double-digit unemployment rate. For Black and Hispanic women, it’s worse: 16.4% and 20.2%, respectively.

The unemployment rate for men is 13%; for white men, it is 12.4%. 

A lot of this disparity goes back to the gender gap – most of the non-essential businesses such as nail and hair salons, hotels and restaurants employ lower-wage jobs held by mostly women. For those women who are still employed, they are finding themselves having to juggle working from home and raising their children, which is essentially a second full time job.  And with school closures potentially extending to the fall or winter, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. If mom guilt weren’t already a thing, it’s now definitely something women are having to contend with.

So how do women deal with the economic, mental and physical challenges they are faced with during this time of upheaval? With companies announcing permanent work from home scenarios, is there any upside and what can companies do to adjust to the new reality for both men and women? How can companies ensure that women aren’t stuck with a double-double shift as Sheryl Sandberg recently pointed out? 

working women

“Over my lifetime, women have demonstrated repeatedly that they can do anything that men can do, while still managing traditional women’s work at the same time. But the same expansion of roles has not been available to men.”  Anne-Marie Slaughter

Here are some ways companies can begin tackling this issue (and a few tips women can put into practice in the meantime.)

1. Run Meetings More Efficiently

One thing that we can all agree on is being on back to back Zoom meetings is just as draining and soul-killing as in-person meetings, if not more! Many organizations are meeting heavy, oftentimes involving too many people and not using meeting times efficiently. Of course keeping in close contact with your team is important when everyone is working from home, but it’s important to find a balance. Take an audit of all the standing meetings you are responsible for – are all of those necessary or can you cut down the frequency or length of those meetings? Are you sending out detailed agendas beforehand? Are people coming to the meeting prepared? Or does it take half an hour just to warm up? Establish meeting protocols that ensure you’re using your time wisely, where everyone’s voice is heard, and decision makers are present (otherwise you might repeat the same meeting twice!) Running meetings efficiently can save a lot of precious time for all employees, but especially for mom and parents that are homeschooling and have to provide child care at the same time.

organized online meetings

2. Increase Paid Time Off

If organizations are going to expect employees to perform well and keep productivity high, then they are going to have to invest in their health and well-being. Paid vacation in the United States sadly trails most other industrialized nations. The key reason why the U.S. lags so far behind is because it is the “only advanced economy that does not mandate any paid vacation time for workers. Given the extra pressure and stress of having to homeschool and provide child care while juggling a full time job from home, companies must increase vacation days for their employees, and put a vacation policy in place if it does not currently have one.

3. Enforce Paternal Leave

Another way that companies can create work/life balance for their employees is to enforce paternity leave benefits. Many companies now offer paternity leave (and for those who haven’t joined that bandwagon, it’s time they did), however many organizations don’t require men to take paternal leave and therefore many don’t take advantage of it. Research has been shown companies that enforce paternity leave benefits actually have more women on their boards. Doing so encourages fathers to share in the responsibility of childcare instead of putting the burden solely on mothers which limits career advancement, otherwise known as the “motherhood penalty.”

Enforcing Paternity Leave

4. Wellness Check-ins & Subsidies

One thing many companies like Google, Facebook and others do well is they offer yoga classes, on-site gyms, healthy food options and other perks to make sure employees stay healthy. Without these benefits available to employees, companies need to innovate in the way they ensure the health and well-being of their workforce. Managers can build in wellness hours by scheduling yoga or meditation classes for their team via Zoom or pay for online subscriptions. They can provide bonuses or monthly stipends to cover healthy food delivery to employee homes (and support local businesses at the same time). And managers can do wellness check-in’s with their employees to talk about how they are handling stress and social distance and asking about emotional wellbeing, provided they have the training to have those conversations in a productive way.

well being

Some things just cannot wait. Men have to stand up now for women’s equality.  – Rick Goings, CEO Tupperware Brands

5. Create a Culture of Belonging

Creating a sense of belonging and inclusion should have been a priority pre-pandemic especially for those organizations that prioritize their people and understand that their workforce is the most valuable asset they have. It’s become that much more important to prioritize this because let’s face it, it’s hard to feel belonging when we’re physically separated. Providing managers with the leadership skills necessary to create a culture where everyone feels safe to speak up, contribute and feel  their ideas matter is essential to ensuring high performing teams stay that way.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate & Ask for Help

Women are notorious for taking on more work responsibilities just to prove their value and worth. They tend to take on a lot of administrative and lower-level tasks. This creates a catch 22 – now you have double the work than your male counterparts and you’re not getting the higher visibility work that can help you get noticed for a promotion. It’s so important to make sure you’re asking for help and not taking on extra work just because you want to be “nice” and seen as a “team player.” Look through your list of responsibilities and delegate those that aren’t the best use of your time. Build accountability to ensure the work is being done in a timely and efficient manner by those you delegate to. Say no to projects or tasks that are going to be time suckers but not amount to any value for key decision makers and stakeholders who might be deciding on who gets the next promotion. This way you’re able to take on higher-visibility projects when they come up or ask your boss for opportunities to build your skills in a new area.

delegate tasks

7. Let Go of Perfection

Women can tend to be perfectionists and because of this end up putting more pressure on themselves to be perfect wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and employees. In the new work from home reality, the pressure to be perfect could lead to a situation that just isn’t feasible. Needing everything to be perfect can lead to micro-managing workloads and getting too stuck in the details. It can be exhausting and isn’t a good way to leverage your time. Letting go of perfection and settling for “good enough” can be one way to relieve the pressure of having to impress everyone around you. Own your gifts and let go of having to prove your value through needing to be perfect.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Whether you are in a decision making role or not, whether it affects you or not (I’m looking at you male allies!), you can begin to advocate for these changes in the companies you work for and the teams you manage. The companies that are going to survive and thrive will be listening to their employees and the ideas they bring to the table around how to handle these changing times. With all the capital they will be saving on real estate, they should be thinking about how to redirect those funds to increase their bottom line through investing in the health and well-being of their workforce and creating cultures of inclusion and belonging for everyone, including women.

Why we have too few women leaders | Sheryl Sandberg

 

 

walk in nature

7 Ways to Get Back to Basics and Create a More Beautiful Post COVID-19 World

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Albert Einstein

It seems as if the world has grown weary of lockdown life and even though infection numbers are climbing in many countries like the United States, it seems as if some people and many politicians want to get back to business as usual.  It is normal for people to want to get out and enjoy the lovely Spring weather because let’s face it, being socially distant goes against our instincts as humans. But my personal feeling about going back to “business as usual” is that it’s going to be short-lived and counterproductive to our collective goal of fighting COVID-19 and an opportunity wasted to usher in a new world.

Whenever we experience deep trauma, loss or separation as humans, we go through various stages in response to the triggering event. In fact, according to the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle, it seems as if we are currently toggling between “denial” – “anger” – “bargaining” in how we are choosing to deal with this crisis. In order to heal, we must allow ourselves to go through these stages in the amount of time that it takes – which is solely dependent on the person’s ability to stay with the feelings, go into the emotions, experience them fully and then come out the other side to a place of acceptance. Having experienced these grief cycles myself, I can say that it is not an easy thing to go through. When you are in it, it can feel like there is no end in sight to the painful feelings that ensue. But relief and healing do eventually come and you become stronger because of it.

5 stages of grief

So if we look at the current crisis from this lens, we can understand why people spent the last weekend protesting in large numbers in Huntington Beach or at Michigan’s State Capitol. We can understand why New York parks were filled with people. We can understand why our government seems to be spinning the truth just so they can get the economy back up and running again. Denial seems to be our way of dealing with the ‘triggering’ event of a global pandemic and handling our grief around losing our individual freedoms. How long we cycle through the first four stages of grief will largely depend on our ability to transcend the pain and trauma to move into acceptance.

The Great Realization

I’ve spent the past weekend watching films like Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans and Dr. Stephen Greer’s Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind. These two films are almost like bookends to describe where we are as a human species. Although Planet of the Humans has been criticized by many environmentalists for using outdated facts and figures to argue that the green movement isn’t doing enough to deal with climate change, it has been lauded for pointing to the big elephants in the room: overpopulation and overconsumption. The main point the film alludes to is that we are well past the point of ‘solar paneling’ or ‘wind turbining’ ourselves out of the climate crisis. It claims that if we do not make massive shifts in the way we live our day-to-day lives and change our consumption habits drastically, we will not be able to tackle climate change in any meaningful way. 

In Close Encounters, the documentary talks about the deep state cover-up around UFO’s and ET’s which ironically seems to be ending with the recent admission by the Pentagon of the existence of UFO’s (no one seemed to be surprised by this). However, a good portion of the film is dedicated to the work of Dr. Stephen Greer who has established a series of protocols called CE5 protocols to initiate peaceful contact with intelligent beings from other planets. He claims that no human being has been harmed in all the decades he has been leading groups in making contact (and he has massive amounts of incredible footage to prove it). The theme throughout the film is that in order to make contact with aliens, we need to raise our consciousness and develop our innate abilities of telepathy and ESP. These are abilities that all human beings have latent inside them and he thinks this is the central technology that ET’s use to transport themselves to Earth from their far away galaxies and planets. 

galaxy

While all this may sound far-fetched, some of the world’s oldest religious teachings seek to help their devotees to attain exactly this type of consciousness raising. In fact, there have been stories of many great avatars who have been able to bilocate or materialize out of nowhere. Jesus himself was said to be able to levitate and in the Bible it describes him walking on water. Psychics use this ability in order to intuit information. Many artists and creative people innately know that their creativity comes from a mysterious “other” place. What would be possible if we were able to tap into this power inside of ourselves as a human collective? What if we were able to make peaceful contact with other civilizations much more advanced than ours? Might they be willing to share their advanced technology so that we could save planet earth? What if that is the reason why they are trying to make contact in the first place? 

As I reflect on these two films and look at where we are today from a meta-perspective, it seems to me that this moment is calling us forth into a great realization about where humanity finds itself today and a need to reassess how we might organize ourselves as a society post pandemic. It requires us to look at the social agreements we have in place in all aspects of our society – from our institutions to how we govern ourselves. It requires a deeper inquiry and a shift in perspective about the role each one of us plays in reimagining our world. This requires a fundamental shift in consciousness and a greater awareness about how we begin redesigning our social contracts to make them more aligned with a more equitable, sustainable, peaceful and inclusive way of being in the world. 

breathe the air

So you might be reading this and wondering – what can I do to help bring about this shift in consciousness? Luckily, I’ve got a few simple suggestions you can take to make a difference by going back to the basics. 

To be empowered – to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are…. Once you feel this way, memorize this feeling; remember this feeling. This is who you really are. ― Joe Dispenza

1. Begin meditating on a regular basis. 

I’ve talked about the importance of meditation in earlier posts and how effective it is in dealing with anxiety and stress. Lately I’ve stumbled upon the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza – a neuroscientist and former doctor who has extensively researched the power of the mind to heal ourselves and to change our lives in concrete and tangible ways. I recommend his book Becoming Supernatural as a starting point or his many interviews on Youtube. You can also find his guided meditations available for download through Amazon. His latest campaign is #GoLove20 is about spreading love and positivity to heal the planet. Make time on a daily basis to meditate, quiet your mind and raise your awareness. This will help in not only bringing about personal well-being, but as I talk about below, has been shown to have positive, long lasting effects locally and globally as well.

mindfulness and meditation

2. Get out in nature, safely.

We’ve all realized and have a new found appreciation for the healing power of nature during this time in lockdown. Human beings need fresh air and sunlight to function properly. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to all sorts of health problems and our lungs and bodies need exercise to feel good, boost our immune system and lower stress. We all need to find safe ways to be out in nature but to do so safely, which means wearing masks, keeping social distance and not touching your face. This is not difficult!! Drive to a hiking trail that is off the beaten path. Find a park that isn’t crowded. Get up early to beat the crowds or take a late night brisk walk. Be respectful of others’ personal space.

walking in nature

3. Plant a garden.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the relationship between humans and nature has largely been about dominion over the natural world. We live disconnected from it and have forgotten the basic skills of tending the land. If something were to happen to our food supply, god forbid, most of us would not be able to survive off the land. With long lines at supermarkets and empty shelves quickly becoming a new reality, it’s becoming clear that we need to relearn how to grow our own food and become more in tune with nature. Transportation of food is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint. One of the most radical acts you can do right now is learn how to grow plants and vegetables. You can start by planting a garden in your front or backyard.  Learning basic gardening skills, permaculture or sustainable agriculture to feed your family or local community while doing something beneficial for the planet. Get inspiration from the Dervaes family who converted their residential property to an urban farm which now produces 6,000 pounds of food for their local community.  Imagine what would be possible if we turned all our lawns into community gardens?

growing plants

4. Make a list of your consumption habits.

If we want to truly begin shifting away from over-consumption, it has to start locally. In order to do this, we have to become aware of our unconscious spending habits. We need to become aware of where we spend our money, time and resources. Make a list of your spending habits and put them into three categories – Must haves, Nice to haves, Don’t need to haves. Begin whittling yourself down to the must haves and nice to haves, and then over time see if you can do away with the nice to haves as well. However, add an additional category of “Experiences” that you are going to add in place of the items you are eliminating. How do you want to fill up your time? Where do you want to put your resources instead? Spending more time with your kids, learning a new skill, volunteering in your community are a few examples. In order to take the pain out of making do with less, fill that time with activities that feed your soul.

5. Work on raising your vibrational frequency.

If you’ve ever heard of the movie The Secret or the Law of Attraction then you know that raising your vibrational frequency is key in manifesting your heart’s desire. Not only is this important in attracting the things you want more of in your life, it is also instrumental in lowering stress and anxiety and increasing well-being. It is also key in raising your consciousness and being able to tap into latent abilities such as telepathy. Heart Math Institute has done decades of research on heart coherence and has developed a tool called Inner Balance which is a nifty bluetooth-enabled device that can measure your heart coherence while you meditate in real time. They conduct Global Coherence events where people around the world practice heart coherence meditations at the same time which has been proven to positively affect the electromagnetic field of the planet (raises planetary consciousness). It only takes 1% of the population to go into coherence to impact the rest of the 99%, lowering crime rates and violence, which is called the Maharishi Effect. 

watching nature

6. Begin writing a new story for the world

We spend so much time dwelling on what is NOT working in our lives or in the world that we end up spending very little time thinking about the world we DO want. We have the perfect opportunity right now to begin envisioning the new world we want to create post COVID-19. The planet has had a brief respite from all the polluting and over-consumption of its inhabitants. Animals are getting to enjoy some of the empty space that was previously occupied by humans. It’s beautiful to see the waters in the Venice canals clearing up or bioluminescent waves in Southern California. It’s inspiring to watch funny and creative videos made by ordinary folks who are tapping into their innate playfulness during this lockdown. It seems like simple acts of kindness and courage have increased too. Isn’t this the type of planet we want to move into? Begin spending time each day dreaming of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Think about the type of work, relationships, communities and planet we could create if we tapped into our creativity, wholeness and resourcefulness. Write it down, journal about it or get into dialogue about it with someone and share those ideas out loud. 

write your story

7. Be a Leader – Invite friends to join you.

All these things are well and good but without a tipping point, it will take a long time to see real change. The time has come for all of us to take personal leadership over our lives instead of waiting for an external entity to dictate what we should do to better our lives. We can no longer wait for politicians or governments to enact change that will lead to a better future. We must be our own leaders and take charge of our destiny. If you feel a calling to make a difference in the world, listen to that inner knowing.. Start a community garden in your neighborhood. Hold group meditations over Zoom. Find online communities that are organizing themselves in raising planetary consciousness. Invite people in your network to practice these new habits. The minute you liberate yourself from programming via social media or the mainstream media, the more energy and creativity you will have in taking positive actions in your life that can impact you and society in general.

keep the balance

When you get back to doing the basics, you’ll begin to notice changes in your relationship with yourself, with other people and with nature. You’ll begin to feel more peaceful, maybe more loving and kind, you might even feel more vitality and wholeness. You might feel inclined to review your consumption habits and find ways to be more conscious about how you spend your time, money and energy. And you might even begin thinking about how you can make a difference locally. If all of us step up to take leadership of ourselves and in our communities, I think we would be able to not only defeat COVID-19 in less time, but we might be able to save Mother Earth and walk into a different world, a more beautiful one our hearts know is possible.

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. – Thich Nhat Hahn

Dalai Lama speaks on Inner Peace,Inner Values & Mental States



practice mindfulness

10 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness In Our Daily Life

“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi

These days as we are all learning to adapt to a new normal of staying indoors, I’ve been personally finding it difficult to focus on what is going right with the world instead of what is going wrong. I find myself sometimes getting sucked into hours of scrolling through my social media feed to read the latest news (which is mostly all terrible) or to feel more connected to friends and family. With all the unknowns of what the future holds, it’s easy to get stuck in negative feedback loops which ultimately breed stress in the body. And right now stress is the last thing we need if we want to boost our immune systems and keep a healthy mental state.

mindfullness meditation
So in this blog post, I want to talk about how to train your brain through mindfulness practices to stay focused on the positive, lower stress, and keep yourself mentally healthy during this uncertain time we’re going through. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It’s our ability to not think about the past or the future but to instead observe what is happening in the moment. 

Why Should We Practice Mindfulness?

There have been many prominent teachers like Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle and others who teach us about the power of mindfulness and why it’s so important to incorporate it into our daily practice. It has many proven benefits from reducing anxiety, depression and chronic pain to improving sleep and reducing stress. Mindfulness also helps us in achieving our goals such as weight-loss or starting a new project. And from a leadership perspective, mindfulness can help us stay centered in order to more effectively manage people or deal with external challenges. All in all, mindfulness is an important practice for us to cultivate to lead happy and meaningful lives.

yoga and mindfulness

But it’s not something that comes naturally for us especially with the many distractions that take our attention and focus elsewhere. Most of us are now addicted to our technology and have less ability to focus our attention for a long period of time. We constantly check our news feed, email or texts and are bombarded with information overload. The day goes by without us even checking in with ourselves, let alone spending time practicing mindfulness, which ironically ends up making us feel disconnected and unhappy. And when we do slow down we tend to feel guilty for doing so, like there’s some kind of rule that tells us we need to be busy in every given moment to be productive and make the most of each minute.

The result of this is we become much more susceptible to bad news, misinformation and anxiety which drag us down both mentally and physically. We end up being uncomfortable with just being with ourselves, we lose our connection to something bigger or to our inner power. We lose our ability to create our future consciously through focusing on what’s working for us right now. 

Cultivating Mindfulness in our Daily Lives

Since breaking our addiction to technology is a much bigger task (and a topic for another blog), we need to build practices in our daily lives to bring ourselves back to what really matters. Although nothing beats a good mindfulness meditation it can sometimes be difficult to squeeze in a 20-30 minute meditation in our busy lives. Instead, we can build micro-practices throughout the day to focus our attention.

buddha and mindfulness

 

Here are my top 10 mindfulness activities you can practice throughout the day:

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

1. Practice gratitude 

When we practice gratitude, we have to focus our attention to what is positive in our lives in the present moment. It gently brings the good stuff to the forefront of our mind so that we are able to more easily come back into the now moment, instead of fretting about the future or rehashing the past. By focusing on the positive we then become more available to create a more positive future.

practice gratitude

 

2. Check in with your body

The body functions without your participation – you breathe automatically, your heart beats continuously and your bodily functions keep going regardless of what you do. But the body is constantly sending us messages through sensations in the body. Take a moment and check in with your body – what do you notice?
Where are you holding tension? Do you have aches or pains? Do you feel heavy or light? Bringing your attention to your body can help realign your attention to the present but also connects you to the information you need to take better care of your body. For more tips on how to lean into body wisdom, you can check out my new course on building more confidence.

beat the inner bully

 

3. Pay attention to your heart

Our emotions are another way the body communicates with us at any given moment. Throughout the day, you might experience a range of emotions from sadness to joy. By checking in with your heart where your emotions originate, you come into more coherence with yourself. My favorite resource for this is the Heart Math Institute that has done decades of research on the power of the heart and how it affects not only our individual health but the well-being of others.

4. Fire up your five senses

One of the simplest ways of staying mindful is to bring your attention to the present moment. Stop what you are doing for a moment and observe what is going on around you. What noises do you hear? What scents do you smell? What are others around you doing? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, put your full attention there and observe it through your five senses for a few moments to practice bringing your mind to the now moment.

5. Practice the centering exercise

One of the best exercises I teach my clients is a short 30 second practice called the Centering Exercise that helps you tune into your body and into the present moment through centering. Here’s a quick video that runs you through the step by step process on how to do it. You can also find it featured in my book, Leading Gracefully. It’s a great exercise for leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and busy moms!

hardcover of book leading gracefully

6. Focus on your breath

Another access point to bringing our attention to the moment is by focusing on our breath. The breath is happening with or without our conscious awareness, but by bringing our attention to our breath we can help our mind focus. Notice how you are breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Take five deep belly breaths and focus your attention on your inhale and exhale. Repeat that three times and practice it multiple times during the day.

7. Observe your thoughts

Here’s a fun game – stop what you’re doing and start observing your thoughts. Can you do that? What do you notice? Try it and see what happens!

8. Mindful eating

Another time to focus on the present moment is when we eat. Most of the time we aren’t paying attention to the food we eat because we’re eating at our desk, watching a Youtube video or reading while we eat. But research has shown that when we eat with more mindfulness, we digest our food better which helps get more vitamins and minerals and aids in overall digestive health.

mindfulness and weight loss

So next time you sit down for a meal, put down the phone, chew your food mindfully and notice how you eat. Do you eat fast or slow? Do you chew your food or inhale it? What does your food taste like? What you discover might even inspire you to take up an online cooking class! 

9. Practice active listening

Most of the time when others speak we are in our heads trying to think of how we are going to respond. We tune out about halfway before the person is even finished with their thought. Next time you have a conversation, try active listening where you are putting your full attention on the other person. Listen with your ears, heart and intuition. Practice mindful listening and observe whether the quality of your conversations change.

mindfulness and meditation

10. Observe your surroundings

I like practicing this when I’m outdoors – just focusing on what is happening around me. Notice the traffic. Focus on the people walking by. Notice a beautiful flower. The wind in your hair. The sun on your face. You can practice this when you’re going for a walk or a hike or just sitting on your patio or from your yard if you’re homebound.

I hope these simple exercises help give you access to the world of mindfulness without having to read books or sit through long meditations. Of course those are great mindfulness activities if you have the time, but I find it easier to make practicing mindfulness part of my daily activities so I can train my mind and stay more positive, feel happier and be in charge of what I choose to attract to myself by staying in the here and now.  

Do you have any tips or exercises that help you stay mindful? Share them in the comments below!

The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger | Shauna Shapiro

 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much–seek too much–want too much–and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle