Don’t sweat the small stuff

In the Thrive Guide for farming women, Fiona Gower shares her tips for nurturing and caring for yourself.

Fiona lives with her family on a farm near Port Waikato. She has held a number of leadership roles including RWNZ President, and has a passion for supporting and growing rural women
and their communities. Fiona is also involved in a number of other volunteer community roles including Scouts and Surf Lifesaving.

What is one thrive tip/practice that you have built into your life?

I have learned to say “No”, and I do this in a number of ways. If I have been working in the office during the day, I do no more work after dinner and I do something for myself- like reading a book. I will close my laptop on Friday afternoon and not look at it again until Monday, unless there is something really pressing, and then I limit my time. I sometimes say no to work for a time during the day when no one is around — and read a book for a few minutes, possibly having a power nap as well.

I also have learned to say “no” to people and requests for my time if I cannot fit it in, or it is something that isn’t a good fit (less is more) so I can do a quality job to things I enjoy and
am good at and I can take time for myself and my family. Don’t be afraid to say ‘thank you for the opportunity, but no thank you’. It’s ok to be choosy  — you don’t have to be everything for everyone — including your family. You can say no to their demands at times too — they are better for that too.

What has changed in your life since you began this thrive practice?

Learning to say no has meant that I am not as stressed or tired, or feeling guilty I cannot give my best or the required time to a task. I have chosen roles that I enjoy and can give my best to, and been strong enough to turn those others down gracefully, without guilt.

Taking time for me means coming back to the work refreshed and ready to go. It means I have time for things I want to do for myself rather than for everyone else. Happy Mum means happier times for us all. I don’t sweat the small stuff.

Saying no to things that aren’t a good fit or I don’t feel I have the time for has freed me up to do things I want to do. It means I can give them the attention they deserve, and it has given me “me time” where I don’t feel guilty taking time out of my  day or evening just because I can. My house may not be immaculate (far from it at times) but instead of  worrying about that I can spend more
quality time with my family or friends or spending time being way more constructive.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start thriving?

We need to take time for ourselves, we need to “care for the carer”. If we don’t look after our needs first, we struggle to look after everyone else – our families, our career, our community.
Learn to say “no”- or put your needs first. Don’t feel guilty because you took time for you. Don’t sweat the small stuff – none of us are perfect. As women, mothers, partners and members of our communities, we are the nurturers and carers for so many, but we need to take that time to care for ourselves to make sure we can care for others.

Surround yourselves with positive like-minded people and find those who can support and mentor each other through good and bad times.

You can access the full Thrive guide for rural women here.

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