Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: A time to celebrate all the women in our lives

In her weekly column Dr Michelle O'Driscoll reflects on the accomplishments, strengths and unique contributions women make - to mark International Women's Day
Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: A time to celebrate all the women in our lives

"Lift one another up through these final weeks and months, and cheer one another over the finish line. It will emerge in front of us soon." Picture: Stock

I started this column for WoW almost a year ago, and it’s been an incredible honour to write about all things health and wellbeing for women and their families. Little did I know that the first article on burnout would be printed a couple of days before the country went into lockdown for the first time!

Since then, the topics have been vastly varied, reflecting the need to overcome this new reality while also navigating existing health issues.

Life through this pandemic has been hugely challenging for men and women alike this year. For me, this year’s International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women in all their glory in this regard – their accomplishments, strengths and unique contributions to family, society and this global fight against COVID-19. Take this article as a prompt to reflect on yourself and your journey through it, and to whole-heartedly celebrate it.

Celebrate your wins – big and small

Did you hold down a job this year while running a household in a pandemic, perhaps even on the frontline? Did you set up home-school and give blood sweat and tears to educating your children?

Did you continue to keep a business afloat, or set up a new one in your quest to adapt? Did you endeavour to keep family’s spirits raised when despair was knocking at the door? Did you manage to keep your own head above water when it might have felt easier to sink rather than swim? Did you offer a virtual shoulder to those who needed it? Did you commit to looking after your wellbeing in some shape or form? Did you just get through?

Congratulate yourself for doing it all, for coping as best you knew how. As a mum, as a sister, as a partner, as a daughter, as a friend. We will look back on this time in awe of what we accomplished.

Right now, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. But do your best to acknowledge and celebrate these wins now, while they’re still fresh and vivid. Even if it’s a quick mental note on a day that feels particularly tough “You’re doing amazingly, you’ve got this.”

Celebrate your life milestones

So many birthdays, engagements, births, weddings, new homes and anniversaries went unmarked this year. Particularly as women, the huge life transitions of becoming a mother or a grandmother have had to happen largely behind closed doors, without the support or celebration that they warrant. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is about making the most of the milestones. While the milestones in your life this year may not have been how you imagined them, they are no less worthy of celebration than if they had happened pre-COVID. Ask yourself, how have you celebrated them, if at all? How would you have marked them? What could you do now to highlight the importance of that day or event even retrospectively?

Celebrate the other women in your life

Look around and take a moment to celebrate the other women that are doing it all too, standing in solidarity and showing up alongside you. Think of those most important women in your life who are rocks to you and those around you. The women who inspire you in every way, in all that they do. The mothers and mother figures in your life. The daughters you are proud to say you raised. The oldest of friends, and the new acquaintances. Celebrate their wins, their milestones. Lift one another up through these final weeks and months, and cheer one another over the finish line. It will emerge in front of us soon.

Celebrate your strength

Despite their innate softness, women are so immensely strong and fierce. Celebrate your determination, your resilience, your vulnerability and your courage. These have all been demonstrated time and time again this year, and make you who you are; they make up what is most loved of you by others. Celebrate it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Michelle O’Driscoll is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company. Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through her company InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally. See www.intuition.ie and @intuitionhealthandwellness

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