We Can Do It All….But Should We?
Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD: signs of stress and strategies to be happy with not being superwoman.
What started out as a national empowerment message has created some unexpected stressors for many women.
The iconic picture of Rosie the Riveter was used as a campaign during WWII to recruit women to production lines to support the war. These campaigns urged women to enter the workforce as part of a patriotic duty to their country. As a result, women found themselves outside the family home, contributing to society in a different way, and eventually leading them into careers that should be celebrated. But have we created an unattainable “doing it all” and “doing it all perfectly” mentality that creates undue stress and pressure on women?
Working Full-Time, Part-Time or Stay-at-home - we all have our battles with what success looks like.
Women have the unique opportunity to choose from many options to provide both caregiving and financial support to the family and they all come with pros and cons. Working outside the home full time can create guilt that you are not there for every family milestone or that you can’t take advantage of all the volunteer opportunities. Part-time moms may feel that they need to bend over backwards and be 100% at work and 100% at home and feel shame and guilt (self inflicted) about not meeting everyone’s needs. Women who choose to stay at home may feel guilty and stressed about not contributing to the household income and compensate by becoming involved in every opportunity that comes their way. None of these situations are ideal and can affect stress levels and ultimately your mental and physical health.
Doing it all can have a physical and emotional toll
Do you have superwoman syndrome? Are you feeling overworked, overscheduled and overcommitted? This can lead to loss of sleep, exhaustion, frustration, feeling anxious and stressed to the max? I see patients all the time who feel that they can’t say no to requests to get involved or help out. I often hear, “but if I don’t do it, no one else will do it”, or “it’s not THAT big of a commitment”. But it is just that kind of thinking and or the inability to say no or set boundaries that have women sitting in the chair across from me feeling like there is something wrong with them. Often they are on multiple prescription medications with no relief from their exhaustion and lack of joy and true fulfillment.
I help patients by finding balance and looking at the “whole person”
Here are 3 steps to help you begin to take off the cape and be more kind to your body.
Set Boundaries and Learn How to Say NO!
Learning how to prioritize what is important and what is not takes time. Learn how to be ok with not doing everything and not doing it perfectly. Saying no is not failure, it is choosing yourself and family over making others happy. Get comfortable saying no and not having to justify it.
Assemble your Tribe
Anyone who helps you emotionally, physically, mentally and saves you time is in your tribe. Delegating is hard for the overworked perfectionistic superwoman, but if it does not bring you joy, let it be done by someone else. Good friends are also essential, one or two people who you can unload on and not feel judged helps you feel heard and seen. Allow others to help you by picking up the slack. Even having a great dog walker on standby can save you stress and keep the family happy.
Consistently and Consciously Take Time for Self Care
You are the only one who truly knows how you feel on the inside. It is up to you to take time to relax and recharge. Small things throughout the day like a 5-10 minute meditation, a walk, 10 deep belly breaths all help. Bigger things like sleeping in, massage, mani/pedi, retreats and solo vacations all add up.
Yes we CAN do it. But, next time you find yourself saying yes, make sure your mind and body agree. If they don’t, your answer should be “not this time”.