You know how I’m always harping on building your network? How you never know when you’re going to need a stock-option specialist, or patent lawyer, or angel investor, or concierge doctor, or 401(k) plan administrator…or mental health professional?
How it’ll help you build a successful career, which in turn will help cultivate financial strength? I drink my own kool-aid, friends. And recently it led me to Kara Eads, a mental health counselor based right here in my little hamlet of Bellingham, WA. Kara specializes in…what’s that? Oh yes: women in tech.
I asked Kara if she’d share with us a short list of things women in tech can do to Keep Moving despite working in an industry that can make it so hard for women.
The rest of this post was written by guest blogger Kara Eads MS, NCC, LMHCA, LPC Intern (and I thought the financial industry had a problem with alphabet soup!). She is a mental health counselor working online with clients who live in Washington or Oregon. She works with a variety of clients and issues, including women in tech. In addition to running her private practice, she also serves as the Oregon Counseling Association Treasurer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-922-4747, or through her website www.karaeadscounseling.com.)
Build Your Support Network
You want a group of people in your life who are willing to listen, give encouragement, and offer advice when needed. Support networks are important for everyone, but for women working in the tech field, it’s especially helpful for dealing with unique issues like discrimination and high-pressure stress.
Make a list of trusted friends, family members, or colleagues. When you are feeling down about a situation, reach out to a few people on your list. Have people who will listen to you in a way that you feel understood. You are not alone. Many women find people of all genders can be part of that strong support system. Many women also find having at least one woman in tech as a role model and supporter is extremely helpful. There are many support groups available online, either social, professional mentoring, or counseling. Your personal counselor can also be part of your support network.
Sometimes we reach out to people within our support network only when we have problems. This can lead to weak relationships that feel one-sided. Make an effort to contact people in your support network regularly. Check in about your work as well as theirs, even when everything is going well.
When you get busy, self-care is usually the first thing to go. But when you make time to do the things that make you feel great, you feel better about yourself and your career. What is self-care? It depends on you! Some people yearn for a morning jog. Don’t like jogging? Don’t do it! Find something you truly enjoy. If you’ve got some money to spend, treat yourself to a massage or a night out. But self-care doesn’t have to cost any money; it can be as simple as walking around the block after lunch each day.
Start small. Take inventory of your personal habits, and choose one or two things to increase in your life. Perhaps you spend more time on hobbies, eat more foods that make you feel energized, get more fresh air, or get your body moving more. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they try to change 10 things at once, keep at it for a week or two, and then go back into their old habits. Once you make a change, practice it until it becomes a habit. Most people say this takes about 6 weeks, but it also depends on you.
Don’t get discouraged if you get busy again and self-care goes out the window again. We all need constant reminders to take better care of ourselves. Be patient with yourself and realize that it takes consistent redirected effort. Just recommit and start again tomorrow. Or better yet, later today. You’re worth it!
How do I know if I need a counselor?
When you’ve tried all the mental health tips you can find, but you’re still not getting the results you want, maybe it’s time to call in an expert. You’re strong, resilient, and smart. You solve problems every day. But when it comes to your overall mental health and well-being, the issues can seem un-solvable and overwhelming.
Why can’t you do this on your own? In addition to your strength, resilience, and intelligence, you also have self-doubt, obstacles beyond your experience, and stubborn patterns of less-than-optimal behavior.
You are a good candidate for counseling if you feel stuck! You’ve tried a few different techniques, researched on your own, and tried to get help from friends. Some of it has worked a little, but it seems like you’re in a holding pattern that’s not quite where you want to be. You are also a good candidate for counseling if you want more support in your life. You have your friends, family, and colleagues, but you’d like to have someone who is trained and devoted to helping you improve your overall well-being. A counseling relationship is completely focused on you, the client.
Question: What’s the one thing you do that most effectively takes care of you? You can leave a comment below.
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Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner and/or an accountant for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.