By Blithe Wiley
Photography by Suzanne Pack
According to the American Psychiatric Association, every year, one in five women experience a mental health disorder. One of the most common mental disorders is depression, which occurs in twice as many women as men. In addition, women are twice as likely to exhibit generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, eating disorders, phobias, and seasonal affective disorder.
What can women do to take charge of their own mental health? Mental health experts agree that several self-care practices are crucial to supporting good mental health. These include:
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice mindfulness (living in the moment).
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Express gratitude for people and things in your life.
- Participate in activities you enjoy.
In addition, many women may find they benefit from seeking professional help, such as talking to their doctor, working with a licensed counselor, participating in group or individual therapy, or taking medication.
In this article, you will meet three professional women, all of whom are members of the San Antonio Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), who share how they take care of their own mental health and encourage other women in the workplace to do the same.
Natasha Sattler, Property Manager and Associate, DH Realty Partners, Inc.
Natasha Sattler is an associate with the San Antonio grass-roots brokerage firm DR Realty Partners, Inc., where she’s responsible for managing 345,000 square feet of primarily medical office commercial real estate. She’s also actively involved with the San Antonio Chapter of Women in Commercial Real Estate (CREW) and currently serves as the local Chapter’s Communications Director.
Working in such a high-pressure industry, she sees every day how important it is for women to prioritize their own mental health as they juggle multiple responsibilities. “Today, we are seeing a real awareness in the workplace of making mental health a central part of overall health,” Sattler said. “It’s so important for women to focus on this. Women will go for an annual physical exam, but their mental health needs to be a part of this.”
Sattler makes her own mental wellbeing her first priority when she rises each day. She meditates and prays and then attends yoga. “Starting my day in this way sets my intentions for the rest of the day,” she said. “I’ve spent a lot of years working through and mastering the pressure in this industry, which can be really intense.”
She noted she also draws heavily from her fellow CREW members by seeking out and learning from their advice and counsel. She also looks to inspirational figures, including author and podcast host Brené Brown.
Sattler prioritizes being a source of support for co-workers and fellow CREW members who may be facing their own mental challenges. “I always try to keep myself in a receptive position and be a source of empathetic energy for others. I try to always press for conversations of compassionate inclusion.”
Sattler noted that there’s traditionally been a real stigma with focusing on one’s mental health, but she’s glad to see that this is starting to change. “I think we are finally heading in the right direction in this area.”
Yesenia Smith, National Director of Learning and Development, Transwestern
Yesenia Smith is a 16-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry. Today, as National Director of Learning and Development for Transwestern, she spends much of her time coaching and developing team members in her company, using the CliftonStrengths assessment tools to help them identify their natural talents to maximize their strengths through the power of positive psychology. She’s also been involved with CREW in various roles, including serving as the San Antonio Chapter President in 2020 and currently on the CREW Network Foundation Board of Directors.
“Today, we are faced with this ‘constant constant’ of everything – this barrage of the pandemic, the economy, DEI issues, the 24-hour social media, and news cycles – it’s so easy today to become overwhelmed by all of these outside influences and have them start to impact your mental wellbeing.”
Smith emphasized that it’s important for women to take a step back, to take a deep breath, and to be present in their own life. “I personally start this process by asking myself, ‘What is God’s plan for me? How do I live in my purpose?’ Maintaining a work/life balance is such an integral part of this,” she emphasized.
Smith considers herself fortunate to work at a company that values its employees as human beings first. She noted that Transwestern is very supportive of its employees who may be struggling with personal challenges. “My company and its leaders were incredibly supportive of me when my daughter was born prematurely and had to spend her first three months in the NICU.”
“It’s okay to be open about the challenges you may be facing in a given situation and how they may be impacting your mental wellbeing,” Smith said. “It’s so easy to get sucked into that black hole of overwhelm, but you need to always remember that you are not alone. There’s always someone who is willing to listen and offer support.”
Jania Matthews, Credit Analyst – Banker Development Program at PlainsCapital Bank
Jania Matthews graduated this past May from UTSA with a degree in Real Estate Finance and Development. Upon graduation, she was hired by PlainsCapital Bank as a Credit Analyst in the company’s Banker Development Program.
Matthews first got involved with the San Antonio CREW chapter while still a student and was immediately struck by the organization’s focus on women supporting women. “Women have been outnumbered in this industry for a long time, so it’s important for us to support one another and create a healthy environment where we can stay winning.”
Matthews describes her schedule in college as very flexible, and when she began working full-time, she realized how challenging it can be to maintain a work/life balance. “I realized very quickly how consuming a 9-to-5 career is,” she said. “So, I’ve made a real effort to set up dinners with friends, take walks in the morning or evening, and go to the gym – activities that that give me a chance to manage my mental health. I also rely on my trusted co-workers to bounce things off of. That helps with any stress I may be dealing with.”
She also uses music as a way to relax. She played the snare drum in high school and learned guitar in college. “It’s so therapeutic to play music,” she explained. “I like meeting up with friends to play music together. It’s a wonderful creative outlet, and it’s very therapeutic.”
Matthews has some advice for other women, particularly those just starting out in their careers. “It’s important to manage your expectations about having it all,” she said. “To ‘have it all’ is going to take some time and some steps. It’s also important not to compare your journey to those of others. Everyone’s path is different.”