Women in general have a hard time saying no.
We tend to pile on the added responsibilities because “someone has to do it” and often our perfectionism convinces us that we are the only ones who can do it “right”. Whether it is at work or at home, we stress ourselves out trying to finish an infinite to-do list, leave the office with an empty in-box, be the perfect wife, mother, and all things to all people. We are perfectionists in virtually every area of our life except one: self-care. Personally, I think science will someday discover that self-denial is a gene inherently found on the X-X chromosome.
The ironic thing is, if we stress out and burn out, all our superhero efforts mean nothing! The very people and causes we live to serve suffer. We need to take care of ourselves first to be of service to others. In fact, I’m willing to bet most women, the first time they heard the airline safety announcement telling them to putt their oxygen mask on first before helping a child, secretly gasped in horror.
All this pressure – self-inflicted as much as it is – will take its toll.
Emotionally, we can feel overwhelmed with the obligations and time pressures. Taking on the impossible will leave us with feelings of failure, guilt, and inadequacy. Fulfilling others’ needs can reach to a point where we even lose touch with our own!
There are many ways stress manifests itself.
One of the first warning signs is that life feels out of control or out of balance. If it isn’t addressed, your body will begin to show symptoms. Stress compounds itself, so as we incur more, we also tend to numb to the intensity until there is a breaking point. No one suffers an anxiety attack all of a sudden – it’s been in the making for a while, we just didn’t choose to pay attention. Likewise no one became a chain smoker or alcoholic overnight. These habits were honed over a long time and use to self-medicate.
Take a moment to look at each of these life areas and note the symptoms.
Check the corresponding column for suggestions to manage stress as recommended by The Cleveland Clinic:
Change in Appetite
Scheduled Leisure Time
Healthy Self Esteem
Time with Close Friends
|Practice Positive Outlook
Home-Work Time Balance
Loss of Meaning
Define meaning/purpose for each area of your life
Stay in the Present Moment
Meditation and Prayer
Where do you need to see change?
Which of the life areas above are you showing signs of stress?
Do not wait to address them! You may think that you are able to fake it through just a little longer till ‘name-that-issue’ is resolved at work or the kids are back in school and then it will all even out. Unfortunately, the nature of things is that there will always be something to take its place – in fact we can get addicted to stress and actually cause ourselves to seek out a replacement stressor to keep us cortisol stoked!
What you need is to get a few things off your plate. Delegate responsibilities or tasks that don’t require you and only you to do. And above all, decide that good is good enough.
Perfect is not achievable – not even by you!
Having trouble with where to start? Not sure what ball you can drop?
Get a good coach to help you sort through it all. It will be an investment in the success of your career and the salvation to your marriage and home life.
Karen Pierce is a Personal Coach specializing in empowering professional women succeed in both their career and personal life and live without regret.