“I knew I couldn’t avoid stress, but I could learn to deal with it better.”
I think of you as the Work-Life Balance Woman, since you advise your clients how they can do this. How do you make sure you keep your own life in balance?
Breathing is essential. I’m convinced that I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t learned how to properly breathe. To me it’s the magic wand — understanding why breathing works and how it helps trigger the relaxation mechanism. I start my day off with it. If I start to get some stress signals during the day, I immediately go to my breathing. So it’s not that I don’t get out of balance, as you call it — I do, but I can transform it pretty quickly using breathing. It’s certainly helped me in recovering.
Learn How to Deal With Stress
Almost 15 years ago I had severe high blood pressure and heart problems. I stopped working and took three months to fully focus on myself. I figured out who I was & what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I learned how to breathe, began practicing Chi Neng Qigong, and did lots of reading and self-introspection.
With a nursing background, and realizing that my health problems were stress-related, I started doing a deep-dive into what stress is, what it does to us physiologically, and how we can learn to deal with it better. I did this to heal myself.
I knew I couldn’t avoid stress, but I could learn to deal with it better. The only coping mechanism I had used my entire life, up until that point, was the shame and blame game — either I was beating myself up or I was blaming someone else and playing the victim role. That’s OK for a four-year old, but not for an adult.
A great way to deal with stress is to be mindful of my thoughts. I’ll catch myself in the spiral and ask, “Is this thought serving me? Is this really going to matter a year from now?” I was a queen of creating massive amounts of fiction for the future. What if this or that happens? And over 90% of it never happened. It was enormously draining.
Surround yourself with like-minded people, and minimize your exposure to toxic people. Not everybody is fit to be on your journey with you. Make some choices.
As a result of making these changes, I’m much more self-aware, much more self-confident.
Love What You Do
After this self-discovery, I realized that I have all of this knowledge, and there’s so much pain in the workplace, why not help others to understand what they can do, in order to remove some of the toxicity from their lives?
I love what I do. Once I found my passion, my next steps became very clear.
Learn and Grow
René and I have been married 34 years. When he asked me to marry him I said, ‘I’m going to hold onto your coattails and go along for the ride.’ In the first 20 years of the marriage I left myself literally & figuratively behind. I did no learning or growing. And now I can’t get enough. Having a growth mindset is so important for people. Be open to new ideas and perspectives.
I love reading. I listen to audio books and subscribe to Scribd. I also study a lot on MOOC’s such as Coursera and EdX, as well as Udemy.
Your work is so diverse and you do a lot of volunteer work as well. How do you prioritize your projects and clients?
I’ve got three priorities:
- Rebuilding my business Creating Waves, which I relaunched last year.
- The Professional Women’s Network (PWN), which comes from a strong belief that we need more representation of women in the world through gender balanced leadership. I’ve been a member of PWN for 10 years, and on the Netherlands board for nearly six years. It is a lot of work, but I make it a priority
- I’ve worked the last 7-8 years with Bridge to Hope, which helps women recover, who have been sex-trafficked.
I love to connect people. I’ll often find the right person to help someone who’s asked me to take on projects that I don’t take on myself.
Part of prioritizing is learning to say no more often, and knowing when to stop. I set a time limit on my phone for 9pm, and after that it’s time to read and relax.
Since I don’t have children, my life isn’t filled with family obligations. So I’m really blessed in the fact that I can focus on the things that are important to me without the distractions. Also, since I’m self-employed, I can set my own hours. I do work a lot. In fact my husband thinks that the computer keyboard grows out of my fingertips. But if I want to go have lunch with a girlfriend or play golf in the afternoon, I can do that. I can make those choices for myself.
Are there any emerging trends you see in your work that you’d like to share with the busy working women who are reading this?
Connectivity is not going to get any better. We’re going to become even more connected to our devices. Being able to create some space in your head — whatever works for you, is important. Go to that place every day, multiple times a day if you can, if and when you need it.
As a result of 24/7 connectivity, organizing and prioritizing will become essential.
Collaboration will become even more important. Support each other & look for great (business) partners.
More and more companies are helping their employees develop personal resilience strategies (that’s what I do through Creating Waves), which is good for individuals and for businesses.
The other trend we’re seeing is an increased rate of burn outs for millennials. They want purpose in their lives, they want things to matter, and they’re not getting that in the current organizational world.
The concept of work-life balance will be replaced by work-life integration. The Dutch refer to ‘work-private life balance’. However, thinking only in terms of ‘balance’ creates more stress. Instead, think in terms of work-life integration. Work is part of your life.
About Mary Jane
Mary Jane Roy believes that we all have the ability to take control of our lives, our emotions, and our stress. We only need to know how. Through her company Creating Waves, she supports others in learning self-care strategies to manage their emotions and lead healthier and more productive lives.
Mary Jane works within organizations to foster thriving (work)spaces, so that personnel can reach their full potential. Working with a network of professional experts, she:
offers consulting and diagnosis of what is needed in your workplace, to encourage employees to thrive.
measures the current well-being status of your personnel.
provides a variety of impactful group workshops, trainings, and one-on-one sessions for building resiliency skills and emotional agility.
She is certified as: Stress Counsellor; NLP Master Practitioner; HeartMath Resiliency Coach; Gelukkig Werken (Happiness @ Work) Coach; Univ. of Penn, Foundations of Positive Psychology (Coursera.org); Skogsfloating Professional Trainer; and Sleep Coach.
To learn more and hear how Mary Jane Roy can help your employees thrive, visit her website at https://www.creatingwaves.nl/ and link with her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryjaneroy/. She is also co-host of the Go2Thrive podcasts.
Sign up here to have bi-weekly tips delivered to your inbox — helping you look and feel even better in less time so that you can focus on your core business.