A MOTHER of four from Kelly Bray has praised a series of bespoke workshops for helping to improve her wellbeing and manage work/life balance.  

Geri Mann took part in the sessions for working mums led by community interest company, Pillars of Wellness & Wellbeing (PoWW).

The series of workshops were designed as part of a research study co-led with the University of Plymouth, which interviewed 21 mums in paid employment from across the South West about their work/life balance and wellbeing.

Feelings of ‘guilt’ and ‘having no time to prioritise their wellbeing’ were regularly reported by study participants, as were additional pressures due to societal assumptions that, as a mother, they had to be the primary care giver.

Geri describes how she’d ‘given up on herself’ when she signed up. Balancing her work supporting young families for three days a week with looking after her 13 year old daughter, 11 year old son, and twin four year old boys (one of whom has additional medical needs), she found herself putting her needs ‘at the bottom of the pile’ and was regularly in tears from exhaustion.

Based on her experiences and those of the other women interviewed, the following sessions were formed and delivered; polyvagal theory (the science of safety and trauma), and guilt, Qi Gong (a gentle physical exercise with mindfulness) and breathwork, yoga and meditation and habit forming

Now, as a result of the workshops, Geri feels like she has ‘permission to live again’ and supports researchers’ recommendations that they should be rolled out across workplaces.

Geri said: When I first heard about the project, I thought I can’t fit that into my life. Everyone kept telling me I needed time for me, or to find a hobby, which felt like hard work. I didn’t want to do anything else – if I’m not working, I want to be and feel like I need to be with my kids.

“As a woman, we’re taught not to be outspoken and to just deal with whatever is going on. While my husband is very supportive, it’s still innate in my being to not take up much space or be ‘too much’ of anything. I felt like I had to put myself at the bottom of the pile in order for everything else to work properly.”

Lauren Packham, who established PoWW, added: It’s fantastic to hear about Geri’s experience and how her life has transformed.

“All of the participants in the study reported that the workshops helped them to alleviate the mum guilt they previously experienced and improve their mental health. They also reported a sense of connectedness with one another through a shared understanding of their challenges.”

To find out more about the workshops offered by PoWW, visit www.plymouthwellness.com