Sisters doin’ it for themselves: Women encouraged to take time out for self-care

By Vanessa Wiltshire

IN A small town that doesn’t have a pub, not even a general store, 20 women are taking time out for themselves – they are meditating.

The flow of relaxing music and the gentle tone of the instructor’s voice moves softly about the room. Outside, the rattling of trucks and muffled voices across a walkie talkie can be heard.

It’s not a wellness retreat, but a workplace in Central Victoria.

Welcome to Mandalay Resources at Costerfield, just 10 minutes from Heathcote. It is March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD), and female employees gather to be challenged and to learn and grow from each other.

The IWD theme for 2019, #BalanceForBetter, was beautifully interpreted and delivered.

General manager Melanie McCarthy began with a presentation to encourage her staff to consider the benefits of putting themselves first. She also challenged them in a gentle yet thought-provoking way about the reasons why we don’t.

Guilt was named as the key offender.

One woman described it as the “burnt chop syndrome”.

Meaning, as women, we feel obliged to put the needs of our families, friends and colleagues ahead of ourselves. We feel that we’ve got to be all things to all people. Whatever is left over, we get. If that’s anything at all.

“If I put myself first, I’d be worried about others thinking I was selfish,” the woman said.

HR manager Nicole Sweeney spoke candidly about her own journey and the challenges she has faced.

She talked about the many components of wellness; financial, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, all of which lead to ‘health’.

“It’s not about being perfect,” Ms Sweeney said.

‘‘It’s about doing your best and reaching out to others for help and support.

“It’s about managing your energy, taking small steps,” Ms McCarthy said.

“Challenging the discomfort that you feel, being in the moment and experiencing it.

‘‘If you do this, the guilt of doing the right thing for you will disappear. It has for me and that has been the game changer in my life.’’

Over a deliciously balanced meal of sandwiches and cake, Ms Sweeney also spoke about the challenges – and opportunities – women face in the mining industry.

“We’ve got a great culture at Mandalay,” she said.

“But I can’t manage or change things myself. That’s where you come in. We’re doing this together.’’

Ms Sweeney also asked employees to consider how the day’s learning could be taken and applied in the workplace.

“Reminding and challenging ourselves and each other that we are our number one,” she said.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”