To mark World Day for Health and Safety at Work, we spoke with the head of the empowering organization How Women Work, Evridiki Iliaki, about the challenges that women face in business, and how she coaches them to overcome these difficulties.
Q: How can women can be more successful in the workplace; how can they develop peace and health in their lives?
This year we hosted a program entitled “Success in Wellness” where we tried to give the recipe for success. We focused on the three most important ingredients:
- Connection with body and soul (physical and mental health)
Connection with Body and Soul
It is important to listen to your intuition, and become connected with your inner feelings as well as your body. A work out regime that incorporates some breathing exercises helps to increase both energy and confidence, which are vital, especially in the workplace.
There is a whole science behind how postures affect your work and your body. Practicing different postures can get your blood circulating and boost your energy.
Eating a diet full of fresh, vibrant, healthy food is essential for wellbeing. This will ensure your levels of serotonin and dopamine are high, which creates feelings of happiness, energy and inner peace.
Basically, these three aspects need to be balanced for physical and emotional health. The relaxation provided by a proper diet, exercise and connection with yourself will help you face the difficulties of everyday life, in and out of the workplace. This is important because work is often a difficult place for women, and this stress can be felt even more acutely if you also have a family to look after. You need energy to cope with your work, household, self-care – a woman’s life is very demanding, so we need to find a healthy balance.
Q: As a life coach, what do you think are the main aspects to having a healthy work and family relationship?
A: I’ve been a life coach and business coach for many years and have witnessed women having burnouts, creating tensions in the workplace, losing their temper. This shows me women have lost their balance in the workplace, and this is due to unbalanced physical and emotional health. Good health is key, because then women feel relaxed and connected, they feel better within themselves and are better able to react mindfully and cope with work and family life. Hormone issues also play a part in health, and this needs to be addressed.
Q. It’s World Day for Health and Safety at Work, can you tell us a bit about how women can stay safe and healthy in the workplace?
A: My consulting company offers corporate coaching—we get into organizations and offer workshops and seminars to show people how to be healthy at work. Firstly, it is about information: for example, letting people know how dangerous it can be to sit for 8 hours a day. I know some women who sit in a chair for work between 8 and 16 hours a day, which leads to a damaged spine. We cannot sacrifice everything just for work and making money—it is easy to forget about work health and safety, but doing so can be dangerous.
So, for example, you can stand up and take a short walk around the office every hour. Another option is to have an office treadmill or a standing desk, or chairs that offer proper back support. There’s a recession going on and companies are less interested in investing in health, but this is a false economy: employees who are unhealthy have less energy and are less productive. Another thing we teach is team-building. This is particularly important because there seems to be a lot of employee friction going on, which definitely has something to do with lack of health balance. We help women to realize that we’re all in it together, and to work together and support each other in the workplace. This creates a much better environment.
Q: Can you give us some tips on how women can achieve health and safety at work?
A: From my experience, health and safety is basically about what feels right to you:
- Be mindful of your posture and adjust it when necessary.
- Watch your breathing and every now and then take a deep breath into your belly and exhale with an “ahhhh.”
- Notice where tension occurs, massage that area to allow the blood to flow.
- Get professional training for safety at work with us or another professional.
- Take a walk around the office every hour to move your body and improve circulation.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Praying and meditation help to connect with yourself and a have a few minutes to silence your mind.
- Make sure you have healthy snacks and a healthy lunch.
- Exercise while you are working, maybe stand up while on the computer, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Organize your time and structure your workload.
- If you feel you can’t handle the workload, talk to your boss and communicate your concerns.
Another thing to focus on is diet. The high rates of diabetes and obesity are alarming. Not cooking and relying on take-out food means we are eating too much sugar and processed foods. I advise women find time to cook some food from fresh to take to work. Reducing meat consumption will also help improve health and energy levels. It is possible to go vegetarian or vegan here, there are more and more restaurants offering healthy menus. The best place I go to is Evergreen Organics. We have our staff meetings there.
Q: What workshops do you offer at the moment?
A: After doing surveys at our latest events, we discovered that many women face difficulty with emotional over-eating. So that will be the topic for one of our workshops this year, helping women to understand why they go through this and how they can overcome over-eating. This year we completely focused our monthly workshops and sessions on health. March was the “Transform Your Body, Transform Your Life” program. We are also working towards more exercise-based workshops, for example martial arts self-defense class, to give women that confidence and energy to stand up for themselves.
Health is important in all aspects of life, but especially at work. Keeping yourself well balanced, both physically and emotionally, helps you to be more productive, more relaxed, more energized, and better able to cope with work and family life. Take charge of your health: whether it’s a new exercise regime, a new diet, or even a short vacation, you’ll be glad you did!