Do you constantly feel overwhelmed? Are you always looking for more time to get things done? Do you feel like you have no time for you anymore? Are you suffering from “Mum Stress” or Rushing Woman Syndrome? Why is it that so many mums are feeling increased levels of stress? Where is it coming from and, more importantly, what can we do about it?
The Rushing Woman
Recently grabbing my attention was a book written by nutritional biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver. What grabbed my attention about this book was its title “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome – The impact of a never ending to-do list on your health”. It is an excellent book that examines how constantly rushing and having a never ending to-do list has a substantial cost to our physical and mental health.
Immediately I related to the concept of the “Rushing Woman” and thought of numerous clients who have presented in my therapy room feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their daily lives. I thought of my friends that have spoken about their struggles in balancing their work/home lives and I considered my own journey where I have at times felt that I was trying to juggle a hundred different things and failing miserably.
The Cause of Our Stress
So where is this stress coming from? The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that two-thirds of women with dependent children are in the workplace – whether this be for career aspirations or for financial necessity (or both). Research from the Australian Psychological Society also indicates that regardless of the hours in paid employment, women continue to see themselves as the primary care giver for their children and primarily responsible for household duties. So it would seem that despite the fact that the majority of women with dependent children are working we are continuing to hold on to traditional roles.
Our Struggle with Inner Expectation
There is suggestion that a lot of the stress that women experience is due to the expectations that we place upon ourselves – the expectation that we can and should be able to do it all….
The expectation that we can do our jobs with the same amount of time and energy that we did prior to having a family. The expectation that our homes are always clean and tidy; that our children are socially, emotionally, physically and behaviourally thriving (and if they are not it is somehow our fault) and that we maintain a level of physical attractiveness that society deems acceptable.
The Effect it Has on Our Health
It is no wonder woman are feeling overwhelmed! How is it possible to achieve all of this when there are only 24 hours in a day? One of the most concerning things about trying to meet these demands is that in order to do so we tend to give up the things for ourselves that are vital in helping us cope with stress – things such as exercise, sleep, nutrition, social interaction and relaxation.
So What Can We Do?
The answer is to ask ourselves “How can I change my reality and/or lower my expectations”. This means setting more realistic goals/demands for ourselves and learning to accept that things are not always going to be how we want them to be or how we think they should be. It means that we learn to feel comfortable in making ourselves a priority and recognising the importance of taking care of ourselves just as well as we do others.
The way we speak to ourselves is of vital importance. Is the voice in your head a critic that is always telling you that you should have/could have done more; that what you did was not good enough; that you are failing? It’s possible to change that voice from a critic to a cheerleader that congratulates you on another job well done, praises you for being good enough and encourages you to take time for yourself.
Whilst we can all feel a bit stressed at times, constant/ongoing/worsening symptoms should not be ignored. Most stress can be better managed and psychologists are trained to teach you effective coping strategies and skills.