Ranjita Sehgal
Mar 08, 2024

It's time women were allowed to embrace balancing work, leadership and self-care

This International Women's Day, the vice president of The Times of India Group emphasises the crucial need for women to prioritise self-care amidst their leadership journeys

It's time women were allowed to embrace balancing work, leadership and self-care
Kathrine Switzer, wearing bib number 261 on a snowy morning on April 19, 1967, took position at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. She was just a simple 20-year old athlete and marathon enthusiast. Four miles later, the race director attacked her and threatened to rip off the bib, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Semple shouted. 
Today, around 41% of the runners at Boston Marathon are female.
The beautiful thing about this incident is that Kathrine Switzer didn’t think about changing the world. She just wanted to run. In the process, she broke an unfair prejudice and practice. 
We, as women, shouldn’t think too much about making a statement or changing the way certain prejudices stack up against us. We should do what we are capable of, and what any other human being is being allowed to do. In the process if we change the world, well let that be a bonus.
Women leaders are making headlines in every industry and that number is only rising. It is still, a long journey as only last year for the first time in its 68-year-old history, 10% of Fortune 500 companies were led by women.
As more and more women are taking leadership roles, the whole ecosystem is playing a significant role in furthering this cause. Parents, spouse, in-laws, managers, organisations etc. all play a crucial role to build a support system around their leading ladies.
However, as women continue to break barriers and shatter glass ceilings, it is important to address the issue of self-care, which is often overlooked in the pursuit of professional success. We might be the Durga with ten hands but somewhere, we must be aware that we need to be serious when it comes to personal and self-care.
Women in leadership positions often face unique challenges that can take a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The pressure to perform at a high level, coupled with societal expectations and gender biases, can lead to burnout and stress. We must be aware that if we short-change ourselves when it comes to health and care we might be short changing a lot of people who are dependent on us.
Recently, a friend in a very senior position experienced a massive health breakdown due to stress and work pressure leading to hospitalisation and a visit to the ICU. One might see it as a sudden event, but in reality, it is just an explosion of a dormant volcano within and evident signs overlooked as she kept work above everything else.
It’s only after an experience like this introspection sets in: “Was it all worth it?”
I am not a health expert and can only speak for myself, but here's what has worked for me with my crazy schedule, extensive work travel, business pressure, kids, family and everyone’s growing demands. Yoga has been holistic for me, bringing balance of body and mind, and helping me with deep relaxation. Regularity is the key. I take time out for things I’m passionate about. If there is nothing you are passionate about then seek what makes you happy and do that. Give work the respect and dedication it deserves, but don’t forget to respect yourself and your body first. Don’t hold everything inside. Seek help or support if you need.
Self-care for women in leadership roles can take many forms, including regular exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and mindfulness practices. Whatever you do, be regular. Start small. Just a walk for 30 minutes to begin with. 
Love and prioritise yourself.

Ranjita Sehgal is vice president for The Times of India Group.
Campaign India

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