September 8, 2020

Women’s Health Week

This week is Women’s Health Week, an opportunity to take time out to check in on your health and to keep making positive changes, particularly with the stress of the current pandemic.

We asked a cross section of women at Northern Health to share their advice on how they are coping with these challenging times, starting with Debra Bourne, Acting Chief Operating Officer, who says, “Do one thing, no matter how small, each day that brings you joy.”

Debra goes on to say, “All of us in health care are often so focused on meeting the needs of others and it is so important to ensure that we have some time of our own to do what we truly enjoy doing.”

“Last night, before I cooked dinner, I put my phone away, sat on my balcony and watched the moon rise. Twenty minutes of peace – my version of joy was all I needed to calm my mind.”

“During the current times of COVID-19, more so than ever, we do need to focus on our mental wellbeing,” adds Deb.

Carol Northmore, Site Operations Manager and Deputy Director Nursing at our Craigieburn Centre concurs. She believes that now, more than ever, is the time for our female staff to look after their own health and wellbeing.

“Many of our female staff not only carry responsibilities at work but often have to juggle family responsibilities at home as well – this is likely to be very much heightened during the pandemic,” says Carol.

“In these challenging times, having someone to talk to, whether it be family, friends or support services available through Northern Health or the community, can also be helpful. And of course, don’t forget the healing powers of humour!”

“The bottom line is, if we don’t look after ourselves, we won’t be in a good place to look after others,” says Carol.

Snezana Filiposki, a key member of the Response to Family Violence team and also a mindfulness facilitator, is a strong believer in the practice of mindful self-compassion. She believes that often we are self-critical and we turn against ourselves like an enemy talking us down.

Snez says, “We need to hear the inner voice of an ally talking us up, not an enemy attacking us.”

Her advice is to take time to practice self-care and self-compassion, as she believes it will help us to develop a state of “warm, connected presence during difficult moments in our lives.”

Lora Davies, Director of Nursing, Professional Practice and Projects, Nursing Workforce Unit and Director Operations Medicine Program, is of the view there are a few simple, yet key things for women to do to look after themselves, and says, “Accept that what you did on the day was the very best you could do on the day.”

Lora strongly advises on staying away from too much social media, as, “it can give you a very distorted view of the world.” Instead, she says, “Connect with your people, it keeps you grounded.”

Finally, Ariana Carrodus, Project Manager, Project Management Office and HRO Transformation Unit, has this to offer.

“It goes without saying that the basics of drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and moving your body (even for 15 minutes like we did with the exercise challenge this year) are super important in ensuring you have good health, but I think this year there are a few extra special things to consider.”

“Be kind to yourself. If this year was an amusement park ride it would definitely be a roller coaster. It is okay to not want to do anything. It is okay to spend all day watching TV in your PJs. It is okay to not come out of this year as an expert in sourdough making, a fitness guru or an artist. To just survive and get through the year is enough. I promise that you are doing a great job!”

For more information, visit for daily information, tools and tips to help you take the lead on your health.