Inner Life

Busy women need strategies to nurture the soul - author

By Muriel Porter

February 17 2016Stress is perhaps the defining characteristic of working life in the 21st century, and women are particularly prone to it.

Their tendency to put work and family first and themselves last only exacerbates stress, according to Anne Winckel.

Ms Winckel, who leads a busy professional life as a Melbourne legal recruiter, has written a book to help other busy women turn their focus at least occasionally to themselves. Time Poor Soul Rich: 60 second solutions and other lengthier remedies for busy professional women, published earlier last year by Ark House Press, offers practical, manageable strategies to do something that nurtures the soul. Some of them taking just 60 seconds, as the title suggests. “For instance, instead of looking at the ground as you go home from work, look at the sunset,” she suggests.

Conventional time management strategies, she said, tended to overlook the need for personal care. “Unless you include personal well-being on the time management list, it doesn’t happen,” she told TMA.

Although a Christian herself – Ms Winckel worships at St Alfred’s, North Blackburn – she did not target the book purely to Christians, but for non-Christian women as well. “I find my greatest joy in God,” she said, “but everyone can be blessed by God’s creation, for example.”

Nevertheless, the book was shortlisted for the Bible Society’s Australian Christian Book of the Year award for 2015. Of the 30 women she interviewed for the book, about half have what she calls “God stories”.

The book was the focus for a busy women’s retreat day held by the Ridley Marketplace Institute at Ridley College late last year. One of the strategies the book recommends is for busy women to take a day out each year to reflect on their lives and decide on their future priorities.

The retreat day, which Ms Winckel helped lead, involved a “time poor” audit and a “soul rich” audit, designed to help the participants reflect on their lives in preparation for focusing on strategies to help them live more intentionally and nurture themselves. A range of workshops helped develop aspects of soul nourishment, from learning how to make jewellery to lobbying for social change to massage.

The day concluded with a planning session for 2016, to help those attending decide on their priorities for the new year and then develop strategies for achieving them, ensuring that their personal needs were incorporated.