I admit that I am a recovering superwoman. I have worshiped the ‘god of busyness’ basing the meaning and value of my life on what I accomplished each day. Like many women, I have juggled the demands of a busy household, family, friends, work, and volunteering. Occasionally it has been effortless, but more often than not it has brought on a great deal of stress. I set myself up for this angst by saying “yes” to too much and then silently wondering how I’m going to fulfill all that I have committed to. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Most women are experts at taking care of others. We are masters of multi-tasking; switching figurative hats from chef to taxi driver to secretary to laundress to accountant to playmate and so on. We heroically rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of those we are committed to, often at the expense of our own well-being. It’s easy to neglect, or entirely forget, our own needs in the midst of managing the needs of others. We can lose ourselves on the path to being super mom, super employee…. superwoman.
My superwoman crashed and burned a number of years ago and I have been on a journey to understand and practice self-care ever since then. Initially, I thought the term self-care was synonymous with selfish. I believed that taking time for my own needs was indulgent and wrong. I had to learn that it was okay to provide for myself first, before giving generously of my time, resources, and talents to others. Since up to 80% of all illnesses are said to be related to chronic stress, it behooves us to have a variety of ways to reduce or eliminate the pressures in our lives.
Now I try to balance the care I offer others with self-care; making sure I am filling my own tank regularly. I’d like to share three essential elements which provide a strong framework for well-being.
1) Taking consistently good care of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.
2) Finding and using my voice to express myself.
3) Surrounding myself with a community of women who encourage and support my development.
The mind-body-heart-soul connection is crucial to successfully balance my superwoman tendencies with my desire to be solidly grounded. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine is an inspiring resource for wholistic health. Mind-Body Medicine focuses on the interactions between mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health. Visit this link to learn 4 simple mind-body techniques.