Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices Among Women in Leadership: Five Insights From Experts

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In early March, SPE Nigeria Council held its Women Leadership Lecture Series celebrating women in the oil and gas industry. Industry experts offered advice during the “Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices” panel.

Aligned with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, the promotion of women’s involvement in governance and politics explores the complex interplay between gender and leadership, emphasizing the crucial role of women in effecting institutional change in specific sectors.

This theme contributes significantly to the ongoing conversation about the transformative potential of women’s leadership in various sectors, shedding light on the strategies needed to foster inclusivity and innovation, thereby paving the way for enduring positive impacts.

For women in leadership positions, the challenges of balancing work and home are as intense as ever. The stress of juggling work, parenthood, and other personal commitments can easily cause or exacerbate mental health issues, reproductive problems, and musculoskeletal issues. Even though the percentage of women in leadership positions has increased, there is still a lack of tailored healthcare provisions in the workplace for them. Consequently, women must compromise the quality of personal and professional lives alike.

Furthermore, organizations need to continue to improve their support and encourage women’s health needs. Prioritizing women’s health starts with creating an inclusive and transparent work culture. Women’s economic empowerment enhances productivity, diversifies the economy, and increases income equality, among other positive development outcomes.

Despite the progress that women have achieved in the modern era, many of them have fallen behind regarding health issues—the reason this panel session will delve deeply into issues surrounding promoting healthy lifestyle choices among women in leadership.

Healthy lifestyle is vital in fostering and sustaining work-life balance for women in leadership roles. It is not about choices but the decision to make it an ethical goal that is intrinsic to attaining their admired positions of leadership. Moreover, wellbeing empowers and inspires one to work effectively in their service to any professional domain.

Promoting emotional, mental, and physical health should be considered as a norm, mapped out and integrated, geared toward increasing women’s performance and productivity because healthier lifestyle matters as it serves as an equipping tool for successful leadership.

Grace Orife: As the first speaker, Orife highlighted the challenges facing women’s well-being and the urgent need to address them through inspiring inclusion. She emphasized the difficulties women face in balancing family responsibilities with professional demands, often starting their day with family activities before rushing to work, which can leave them feeling unprepared and stressed. She suggested that women should prioritize their well-being by practicing self-discipline, maintaining a work-life balance, and engaging in regular exercise. She stressed the importance of resilience, noting that despite these challenges, women continue to make a difference every day.

Chinenye Eugena: Eugena, Adelaar Energy CEO, emphasized the importance of work-life balance, suggesting that everyone has childhood sports or hobbies they can tap into to unwind from stress. She recommended that for quality work to happen, women should reconnect with their passions. She also suggested that women should have their own “me day” to reflect on life and take a complete break from everything around them. Furthermore, she highlighted the need for women to recognize that there is a time for everything and to avoid taking on too many responsibilities that could destabilize their work-life balance. She emphasized the importance of celebrating healthy inclusion by maintaining a balanced approach to life’s demands.

Sha’awa Shettima: At the outset, Shettima, Chevron Nigeria Ltd. oil and gas expert, emphasized the importance of women being fully conscious of their health needs. Drawing from her experience of coming from a region where women’s and children’s education is not prioritized, she shared the challenges of adapting to a new life and working style that contradicted her cultural norms. She advised women to regularly assess their goals through self-reflection and seek feedback from colleagues and loved ones to achieve a balanced and healthy working style. She concluded by encouraging women to pause and reflect on their unhealthy habits, as identifying and addressing these habits is a crucial step towards achieving a lifelong work-life balance.

Modupe Ala: As an academic, Modupe, Lead City University lecturer, highlighted that mental health issues can sometimes stem from marital problems. She emphasized the importance for women to discern when to speak out and seek solutions regarding marital issues. Modupe stressed that a healthy marriage contributes to overall women’s health. She cautioned against overloading oneself with work, as neglecting personal life can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. She concluded that women should always be proactive in seeking help when needed.

Tokunboh George-Taylor: George-Taylor, Skot Communications CEO/Founder, highlighted a common mistake young women make, which is prioritizing monetary benefits in marriage over finding a partner who will support their careers. She emphasized that this choice is unhealthy. Additionally, she encouraged people to allow those they work with to see them as vulnerable and suggested that women should share their emotions by talking to other women in their organizations and beyond. She concluded by advocating for women to critique and express themselves fully, and to also offer commendation where it is deserved.

Omotola Salako: Salako, a trained physician, emphasized the importance of integrating psychologists into the workplace to address mental health and work-life balance issues. She highlighted that adopting a healthy working lifestyle can prevent diseases, especially those that are financially burdensome to manage. She pointed out that women sometimes make decisions out of fear, leading to complications and advised women to consult medical doctors through regular checkups. She concluded by stressing the need for women to prioritize their health by maintaining a work-life balance.

In conclusion, the moderator, Ifeyinwa, emphasized a strong awareness must always be considered at places of employment to advocate and promote healthy working style for the benefit of all. In addition, there should be institutional support and shift to foster a healthy life.

This article is the second in a two-part series on the SPE Nigeria Women Leadership Lecture Series, read part one here.

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