Women discuss the value of mental, emotional health in the workplace

by Jamie Smith ([email protected]) 157 views 

Alison McElroy spoke about the importance of taking time for creativity and quiet during the NWA Business Women's Network Luncheon Thursday (Jan. 21) in Bentonville. 

The intrinsic value for strong mental and emotional health received attention Thursday (Jan. 21) during the Northwest Arkansas Business Women’s Network luncheon held in Bentonville.

The original speaker for Thursday’s luncheon was waylaid by weather in eastern Arkansas but organizers found what many participants called a “perfect” replacement. Allison McElroy is well-known in Northwest Arkansas as the now former director of Development at Open Avenues, an organization that finds employment solutions for adults with various disabilities.

McElroy, who began the organization in 1995 and retired after nearly 21 years, spoke on the topic “It’s Me O’Clock Somewhere,” which is the idea that people need to make sure to take quiet time for themselves in an effort to still perform well when they are managing work and life.

“We all forget to take time for ourselves,” she said. “We (as women) struggle to nurture our own souls. We are notorious for putting ourselves on the back burner.”

McElroy led the group through several exercises to illustrate her points. First, she asked them to be completely quiet for two minutes without even looking at their phone.

“It seemed like forever, didn’t it?,” she said once the two minutes passed. “How many of you started thinking of lists of what needs to get done?”

The idea McElroy was pinpointing is that many women tend to multi-task and never take quiet time for their own self-care. She then asked the women to list three things they would love to do yet they never take time to complete the task despite the perceived joy it would bring. Listed items included taking drives in the countryside, reading magazines, and learning to journal personal stories.

McElroy then told the women to pull out their calendars and asked them to schedule each item, with the first being accomplished by mid-February.

“If you schedule the time you will accomplish all three things,” she said. “You can tell yourself ‘I have an actual appointment.’”

Krista Khone, vice president of Special Projects and Leadership for the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, said after the luncheon that women are 51% of the workforce, which makes women-focused events such as the luncheon important. The day’s topic is important for women and the workplace because “we take care of everyone but ourselves,” she said. “It’s so important to take care of ourselves. I know that when I’m in a better frame of mind, I’m more productive so the company then benefits.”

Liz Cox, head of the marketing and design departments at Hight-Jackson, said women tend to multi-task and try to take on too much at once.

“It’s important to us as individuals and it’s good to be reminded to take a step back and schedule creative time for ourselves,” she said. “When we do that, we are better in business.”

According to the NWA Business Women’s Conference website, the luncheons are quarterly networking and learning opportunities for women. They include “insightful speakers and topics important to the women of Northwest Arkansas.”