With the trending “Superwoman Syndrome,” many women have forgotten the importance of self-care. They have gotten so caught up in taking care of everybody else, that to do anything else feels selfish to them. Choosing to turn down an invitation to get some much-needed sleep brings on feelings of guilt. Letting the phone go to voicemail when they simply cannot handle “any extra” feels like betrayal.
What is Superwoman syndrome?
The term Superwoman Syndrome is self-defined. A woman who has this condition puts a lot of pressure on herself to do it all, to be everything to everybody; she juggles multiple roles which, she drives herself to perform perfectly. Like the superhero, she has made it her life’s mission to “save the world” or a small portion of it. Everyone loves and benefits from the superwoman and the different roles she plays and tasks she performs. What about her though? What effect does this lifestyle have on her? This is one of the problems that we will address, as well as the solution to it.
Profile of a Superwoman
Have you ever met her? What does she look like? What characterizes a Superwoman? Some of her common traits are:
Dr. Tasheem Bhatia M.D. profiled five types of superwomen in her book Superwoman RX, based on discussions with over 12,000 patients. These five types include: Boss Lady (intelligent, witty, high demander), Savvy Chick (part artist/part boss), Earth Mama (natural caregiver), Nightingale (selfless server), and Gypsy Girl (creative) (www.wellandgood.com).
While the type of superwoman you are categorized as may vary, the effects of this syndrome on your physical/mental/emotional well-being, are the same.
Superwoman syndrome and your health
While your “super powers” might benefit your family and friends, boss and co-workers, and /or community, this can be detrimental to your health. Saving the world can take a toll on your physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual health.
Mile long to-do-lists, late night planning and organizing sessions and problem solving can seriously cut into your sleep time. Superwomen frequently find themselves burning the midnight oil, only to rise early in the morning exhausted. They often brush off the need to sleep for productivity. This soon leads to sleep deprivation, which can cause a host of both mental and physical issues.
Placing a lot of demands on yourself and striving for perfection can be stressful and too much stress is harmful mentally and physically. Superwomen can find both their bodies and minds worn out if they are not careful. Weighty check lists and unrealistic goals and demands can lead to physical exhaustion and illness and the inability to realize these impossible goals can result in depression.
The fast-paced lifestyle of a Superwoman can affect her dietary and exercise regimen. The struggle to juggle it all may cause her to choose fast food over a healthier home cooked meal and she may opt to forego working out at the gym to work on a project, or she may neglect needed quiet “me time” to take care of others. These choices can lead to physical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and heart disease.
Giving up your cape
Sleep deprivation, high stress levels, depression, and heart health are a few good reasons why we need to turn in our cape. The question at hand now is how do we shift from Superwoman Syndrome to self-care? Below are four suggestions that will help you in this transition.