Cood health is the greatest asset to the work-ing woman, so that any time or energy-expended upon the care of her health is by no means wasted. Indeed, health is everything to the woman who has to make her way in the world, to the girl who has to fight the battle of life and win it, who has to earn, not only her daily bread, but her house and clothes and amusements, by her own exertion.
A great deal is expected of the average woman to-day. The number of business and professional women is increasing rapidly, and competition is very keen. The strong, capable, self-reliant woman who can be depended upon to do her work in and out of season is sure of success. Success is a matter of brains, inherent capacity, but, most of all, of health. Perfect health is one of the greatest blessings in the world, because it is the fundamental factor in happiness and success. Life is a constant delight to the woman who is mentally and physically fit, who can enjoy the fight and competition of business and professional life.
There is something wonderful about the pluck of the woman who makes her own way in the world, who works and lives and does her duty with a persistence one cannot but admire.
It is an acknowledged fact in University life that women make better students than men, and the reason is often given that they have no distractions and no temptations to loaf. But if the woman worker has neither billiards nor golf to take her from her work, she has often social and domestic duties to fulfil when she is tired out with the daily routine of work or study or the various calls of professional life.
It means a great deal of hard work to excel in business life, social life, and the domestic sphere, and for that reason the business woman has a far more strenuous life than the business man. Nobody expects a man who is an excellent salesman, an able grocer, a clever medical man or writer to make his own hats or excel as a cook in his hours off duty. Most people expect all things of the woman, and it entails much hard work and very great nerve strain. The girl with strong, buoyant health, with energy and vitality, gets along very well. The anaemic, delicate, nervy woman cannot stand the strain. The woman of average ability who has good health will succeed when the brilliant girl, handicapped by dyspepsia, nerves, or anaemia, may fail.
It is health rather than brains, in the intellectual sense, that makes for success to-day. Good health ensures vitality, energy, and capacity for work. Poor health inevitably brings depression of spirits, impaired nourishment, listlessness, and indifference to things that are vital from the business point of view. It follows, therefore, that the business girl and working woman, the hundreds and thousands of women and girls who are working in shops, offices, studios, colleges, libraries, and schools, should guard their health as a treasure more valuable than anything else in their possession.
Unfortunately, the average woman neglects her health, is careless about her physical well-being, squanders her vitality recklessly. She only realises the inestimable worth of good health when she is on the point of losing it, and then spends her hard-earned money in paying chemists' and doctors' bills, which she might have avoided by the exercise of common-sense at the beginning.
If the working woman can maintain her vitality at a certain average standard, she will succeed if she has a fair amount of perseverance and capacity. But the cleverest girl will make a failure of her career if she fritters away her energy, wastes her vitality, and squanders her health. The average failure in business life is the result, not of incapacity, but of disregard for the common-sense laws of life and health. Energy is one of our most precious possessions, and energy depends upon health. A keen brain, a quick understanding, a ready response, depend far more than people realise upon healthy blood and good digestion.
Tonics, or Healthy Living ?
What are the chief ailments, due to neglect of her health, from which, the business girl suffers ?
Go into the shops, offices, the training colleges all over the country, and look at the women and girls who are earning their living as workers in the business world. Seventy per cent, of them are either dyspeptic or anaemic, and a very large number complain of depression, headache, and lack of energy. It is not overwork which is the main cause of this, but over-strain, the result of neglect, carelessness, and ignorance. If working women could only be made to see that it is by patient observance of the simplest laws of health that they can be young and strong, buoyant and capable, they would determine upon a new line of conduct.
Not by tonics and medicines can perfect health be ensured, but by living in healthy and hygienic harmony with one's environment. One has only to look at the faces of the working women -and business girls who pass along the streets to their daily work to read the physical signs of chronic ill-health. How many of these girls are pale and anaemic ! How many of them have lost the soft roundness, which is the birthright of the young, years before they need ! How many have shadowed eyes and hollow cheeks, tense expression, brains which are absolutely tired and fagged out ! How few show the bright eyes and clean skin, buoyancy of walk and movement associated with good health !
The very first thing that business women should do if they wish to keep fit and well is to attend to their diet. Dyspepsia is the greatest ill of the working woman's life. It handicaps thousands of girls mentally and physically, and spoils their good looks in addition. It is impossible for a girl to do good work if she is suffering from chronic indigestion. She cannot digest and assimilate the food she eats. Her blood is consequently impoverished, and she lacks brain nourishment. Thus she suffers from depression and the anaemia which poisons the lives of seven business women out of ten. They may not realise it, because they make an effort, and by suggesting to themselves that they must brace up and attack their work, they manage to perform it. But all the time their vitality is being sapped, and they must pay in the end.
The business girl, therefore, should make up her mind to eat nourishing food, and to spend what she can spare on well-cooked, appetising food.
She should practise chewing, so that before she swallows every bite of food it is partially digested in the mouth.
Hurried meals and insufficient chewing are the direct causes of 50 per cent, of the cases of dyspepsia amongst business girls. The ordinary business girl leads a sedentary life, and is not, therefore, able to digest more than three meals a day. But these meals must be nourishing, ample, appetising. The constant headaches many girls complain of are very often due to improper feeding Early tea, ' snacks," and late suppers must be given up by working women who wish to take care of their health. The midday meal of tea and buns is becoming less common in restaurants where business girls meet, and there is no doubt that a good square midday meal, eaten leisurely, and thoroughly chewed, is one of the best health measures in the world.
The Value of a Good Breakfast
Let the business girl arrange her meals, when she possibly can, on the following plan :
If she awakens and rises an hour before breakfast, early tea is quite unnecessary. She should have a good breakfast of porridge and milk, followed by egg and bacon or fish, with a cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee, whichever she prefers. She should try to eat a good deal of bread-and-butter, or toast-and-butter, whilst marmalade or other preserve is an excellent conclusion to the meal. When, however, appetite fails her, she should drink a tumblerful of milk at breakfast, as this is food and nourishment in the best sense of the word. The midday meal should consist of freshly cooked meat or fowl, with vegetables, varied by stewed fruit or milk puddings, with biscuits and cheese.
Rich, sweet dishes, pickles, shellfish, pastry, curries, cold meats, and other indigestible foods, should be left alone by the business girl who desires to keep in good health. In the same way, strong tea and coffee are poison to jaded nerves, and if taken in any quantity will undermine the health and constitution of any girl almost as certainly as alcohol. A cup of afternoon tea, if the afternoon is a long one, is perhaps permissible, but every business woman should see that she gets a good meal when she reaches home.
All these apparently small matters are important from the health standpoint. To be continued.