Ask anyone in the full-time workforce how to spend a day off, and few would reply “running an ultra-marathon.” But technology marketing director Jamie Fitzcarlos says this is essential to recharging her mental health and giving back to the community. Here’s why:
Jamie Fitzcarlos, Marketing Director, Industries – SAP
The ramifications of COVID-19 are steadily increasing discussions around mental health in the workplace. From pursuing passions to giving more time to loved ones, more and more businesses are looking to provide their employees with a better work life balance.
As women working full-time in the corporate world, we’re able to leverage the opportunities presented by our employers to do exactly that.
Personally, as a young stroke survivor, it’s important to me that I’m able to give back, as well as help raise awareness and support for the Stroke Foundation.
Four years ago, I woke up ready to power through a day of working from home. After taking the dog for a walk and getting my morning coffee, I dialled into a conference call. But just minutes into the call I realised I could no longer formulate words.
At the age of 34, I was astounded to discover that I’d suffered from a brain clot, more commonly known as a stroke.
Looking back, the warning signs were there. I felt tightness in my chest the night before it happened, but I put this down to pulling a muscle at the gym. My neurologist has since pointed out that this was most likely a clot in my lung.
As a result, my health is now one of my top priorities. That’s why I’m using recently introduced ‘Life Leave’ from my employer, SAP, to train for and participate in endurance events.
Running an ultra-marathon is emotional. From setting pre-dawn alarms to running through pain and fatigue, I endure months of blood, sweat and tears before I even reach the start line. This also fills me with a sense of achievement. Thinking back to when I was recovering, I didn’t know if I’d be able to run again.
Being out on the trails is my way of disconnecting and restoring balance. This has been particularly important over the last year. With COVID-19 holding us captive to NSW, my husband Steve and I used our training to explore our own backyard, spending most of our weekends in the Royal National Park or Blue Mountains. This made us appreciate our surroundings and focus on what’s important.
That said, it’s hard to be disciplined when it comes to taking time out to focus on personal passions. I book the time in my calendar like I would for a work meeting. I also look for ways to integrate my personal hobbies into my work life, running with my SAP colleagues at lunch.
Being active benefits my work mindset. My best ideas come when I’m out on the trails and I’m more productive after I run.
With this in mind, it’s inspiring to see other women prioritise work-life balance, whether it’s taking time to recharge or to pursue personal projects.
My colleague, Kike Abegunde, is an excellent example, having started her own podcast, The Kikelomo Show. Here, Kike shares details of her career journey and personal life as a Nigerian-American living in Australia, in the hopes of inspiring other female executives to follow their passion.
We know that working remotely during COVID-19 has put the spotlight on flexible work more than ever before. For women everywhere, now is the time to think about how you can prioritise whatever circumstances are most meaningful to you, and work with your manager to strike the right balance.