Last week I presented at a women’s business network meeting about the importance of self-care and I asked the audience how many people felt they had a good life:work balance. Only 4-5 of the 120 delegates raised their hand – which isn’t really surprising but is quite sad isn’t it?

We women in particular are our own worst enemies – we put everyone and everything above us in the priority list and place a high expectation on ourselves to be ‘wonder woman’. But it’s really important to create balance in our lives to prevent mental and/or physical meltdown.

Stress is now known to be a factor in 5 out of 6 leading causes of death and lifestyle factors are linked to the development of many diseases. When we are stressed, our bodies go into the fight-flight mode which is supposed to be short-lived as the hormones released (e.g. adrenaline) help our bodies flee from any imminent danger. But we don’t usually do anything to reverse the fight-flight response (like running away from danger) and we often remain in a stressed state, and so the chemicals stay in our bodies too long. The hormones released in the flight-flight mode also suppress the immune system, and so the longer we are in this mode, the weaker our immune system is, hence the link with ill-health.

So, minimising stress levels isn’t just the in-thing to achieve, there’s a real physiological advantage to reducing stress and to creating balance in your life.

So make a commitment to be kind to yourself – find time to relax, switch off your mobile phone at home, diarise some me-time each week, eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly and enjoy a regular massage or spa day. It really will be time well-spent!