Expectations of women these days are a lot higher than what they used to be and not to mention unrealistic! Women are now expected to be the primary care giver in families whilst also pursuing a career, having a social life, trying to maintain some kind of health and fitness routine, and add unequal economic and social conditions some of us face to the mix and it’s no surprise we are feeling overwhelmed and worn out!

The crazy amount of demands on our time is pushing so many of us into pressure cooker situations and putting some serious stress on our mental health. But you can take back control of your time and start taking care of your mental wellbeing with a few tips.

Firstly, get a pen and some paper and list numbers 1 to 24, with each number on a new line. These numbers are how many hours in the day you have. Next, strike out 8 numbers and write ‘sleep’ next to them – this is a nonnegotiable! You must get 8 full hours of sleep every night to be able to function as a human, anything less and you will affect your mood, ability to concentrate and your mental wellbeing.

Strike out one more hour and write ‘me time’ – again this is a nonnegotiable, repeat NONNEGOTIABLE! You must and I really mean MUST have at least one hour a day to do something that sets your soul on fire, otherwise how do you expect to live a happy life if you won’t commit time to enjoy yourself? Are you really willing to live a life where you can’t spend one hour a day doing something that makes you happy?

You can do whatever you want in this one hour, it could be yoga, reading, painting, running, starting a side business whatever you like but it must make you feel like sunshine and if it doesn’t then try again the next day and try something new. Taking some ‘me time’ helps strengthen your mental health but is one of the first things we all neglect as we get bogged down in our day to day life, so make it a priority and a habit.

For your remaining hours write down all of the other demands on your time which might be things like getting ready for work, going to work, picking the kids up from school, cooking and eating dinner, showering etc. Be realistic on what is achievable and allocate your hours accordingly. As your list of demands grow you will soon realise you only have so many hours in a day which is kind of the point of this exercise!

You can only do what you can do so stop over committing and stretching yourself so thin that you’re about to snap at any given moment! Learn the power of no and work out your priorities and what you are willing to spend time on.

If cooking dinner, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors doesn’t sound appealing but is one of those things that ‘has to be done’ then ask yourself; “does this only have to be done by me?” Hire help if you can afford it, if not start delegating and get help with chores. Being a woman doesn’t mean you are responsible for everything, yes you are capable of multi-tasking and doing a tonne of things, but girl live a little and stop taking on everything and start getting others to step up and help!

Once you’ve mastered your schedule and learnt to stop over committing, you will have taken back control of the things that used to overwhelm you and found time for more important prioritises like your mental wellbeing, self-care and sleep!

Zara Hawley