Eat well. Exercise. Don’t get too fat. Don’t get too skinny. Take time out. Relax. Work hard. Play often. Forge a career. Get business savvy. Travel the world. Keep the house clean. Bake homemade goodies. Expand yourself. Learn something new. Be a good mother. Be a great wife. Make time for friends. Smile often. Frown less. Volunteer.
Let’s face it – as discussed in this week’s Self Love Quicky it’s a big call to be Super Woman! To maintain it all and do it well can cause sheer exhaustion with symptoms like headaches, muscular aches and pains, anxiety, depression, irritability, inability to concentrate, and mood swings, now medically recognised as side effects of ‘Super Woman Syndrome’ – a condition first named in the seventies. It might be a challenge to overcome, but it is possible to create a more respectful relationship with yourself by making self-care your priority.
As women struggle to balance multiple responsibilities, many wonder what happened to ‘having it all’? How has life got so busy there is little time left for ourselves?
The truth is that being happy, healthy and the best you can be is all about commitment – a lasting commitment to a healthy, balanced lifestyle made up of the hundreds of small but important choices you make every day. But the million-dollar question is: what is a healthy and balanced lifestyle in this sophisticated and fast-paced world? And how do you know if you really are making the best decisions about the way you live and what you do with your time?
At heart, we all want to be healthy, successful and happy with ourselves, but many of us feel overwhelmed by information overload. The world around us is becoming more complex, technical and processed and filled with many more choices.
I have heard women around the world asking for inspiration that will last a lifetime. They want a strategy for living with unbiased information they can rely upon when it comes to making everyday choices about business, their health and wellbeing and the welfare of their families. I am passionate about my career and my health, and this plea is close to my heart; after all, finding a healthy balance is a challenge I face in my life as a businesswoman, mother, wife and mentor.
Fortunately for us all, there is help. And if you break it down into manageable bits, it’s not that hard. In fact, I am here to help focus on beating the Super Woman Syndrome. Remember though, everyone’s experience of overload will be different, therefore the remedies will also vary. It is important to experiment and find the strategies and tools that work best for you. Maintaining balance is a lifetime process; it is a day-to-day journey of learning and gaining insight into how we can positively affect our health and relationships at work and in the home.
It’s all very good and well saying ‘choose to live at high-level wellness’ – it’s almost silly to suggest it! After all, we all want to live like that. The problem is, many people confuse ‘wellness’ with ‘living without illness’ rather than realising they have the power to live at an optimum level of health which positively affects every area of their life. So here are some tips to get you started or back on track on your journey. Maybe don’t try and achieve them all in one week; set yourself mini goals and work at implementing one of these strategies at a time into your life. The key then is to keep it going!
* Prioritise and Delegate More
The two biggest excuses I hear from women for not taking care of themselves are, not enough time or not enough money. In today’s busy world with such high financial and time pressures it is easy to think they are valid excuses. But I disagree.
It is not about time or money. I believe it is simply because you have not made yourself a priority. When was the last time you had a relaxation massage? If it was last week, congratulations! But it may have been months, even years since you had the pleasure. It may be that some of you are yet to enjoy that experience. If your reason for not having a massage recently is because you have not had enough time or money, is it really because you haven’t had the time or money, or is it that you don’t see this as a priority? Is it more a luxury than a necessity?
I believe the most important asset you have in your whole life is your health. A lot of women may find they put the needs of their partner, family or loved ones before their own. Women are so good at this. So, if I suggested the health or lives of your children or partner depended on you having a massage this week – in other words, they would get sick if you didn’t have one – would you find the time and money to do so? Of course, you would. Your massage has now become a major priority.
Priorities are what drive us. They are our focus. If it was really important for you to have a holiday in Europe but you didn’t have the time or money right now, you would start to make a plan. You would begin saving and begin to work out your itinerary. And whether it was one week or one year before you left, you would get there. You would get there because your holiday became a priority.
Many people have a great deal of trouble prioritising people and activities in their life. Think about yourself for a minute. Begin by assessing your relationships: Higher power, spouse/partner, children, friends, employment – is this your order of priority? Often people living with symptoms of Super Woman Syndrome have this list reversed.
If you are really truthful, you’ll admit that you believe no one else can do what you do. If you don’t do things yourself they won’t get done, everyone else is too busy, or you think you will be seen as a failure if you can’t manage it all. Recognising that this way of thinking is not helping you is the first step, then learning to delegate and asking for help, is next; however, learning to say ‘no’ at times could be your lifesaver too! Easier said than done, right?
* Plan, Plan, Plan
The key to managing a full-on busy life is to plan your day. Often we plan what we are doing for work but what about time out for you? What about your meals? Do you plan what you are going to eat for the day? What time will you fit in some exercise? When is your chill-out time? If you lead a busy life, one of the most important things you can do is plan your day, plan your week, plan your month. Almost too simple to be true this one!
* Manage Your Guilt
For those of you who are mothers, you will know this one. One of the toughest things for busy women who work is feeling comfortable about how much time they spend with their children. What is the right answer here – a full-time nanny, day care, half-days, a live in au pair? The answer is: do what works for YOU and YOUR family. My suggestion is that whatever decision you make, go with it, then limit the amount of guilt you allow yourself! Be kind to yourself. And change it if it isn’t working.
* Good Food, Good Mood
You have heard it all before and yet again I reinforce it. Eat fresh, whole foods. Choose live foods (as nature intended) and avoid processed/packaged foods as much as possible. What is important is that you truly get ‘you are what you eat, eats’. What goes into your mouth has an effect on how you think and feel, your energy levels, your mood, and your productivity. Eating on the run, eating packaged foods, takeaways, muffins and coffee or, worse still, having no time to eat at all, are typical Super Woman habits. Trust me – if you do not invest in your health and wellbeing now, then sickness will invest itself in you later.
* Role Models Not Supermodels
It’s a very powerful message particularly at this time when advertising and marketing is so based on the ‘beauty’ images of rail-thin and very tall models! What tone of voice do you use when discussing your health and wellbeing? How do you talk about your body, hair and skin? How do you accept compliments? How do you talk around your friends and family?
Most women will agree they don’t want their children growing up with hang-ups about their body or image, but if they hear their role models and mentors saying things like ‘I hate my hair’, ‘I’m so fat’, ‘I can’t be bothered’, ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees you know’ ‘I’m so broke’ – then what messages are we giving them?
When a child asks for a certain toy for example and you cannot afford it – is this what you tell them? ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees you know’. Or do you try to encourage them by saying, ‘Wow that would be amazing; do you think we could come up with a plan to save up so you can get that toy?’ You are not saying ‘no’ are you? And the responsibility is now on them to be creative. You are helping them see they can achieve goals if they create a plan.
* Age Gracefully
Ageing is a natural biological process we experience as each year passes. Sadly, women often berate themselves as they age – almost as if they associate more wrinkles with less value. They turn to expensive ANTI-ageing products, or the more radical option – surgery! Now, while it is important to pamper yourself and use good skincare, your intention should be to nourish and care for your skin and body to help it age gracefully, rather than engaging in a war with the wrinkles. If we place a greater emphasis on reducing stress, eating a healthy diet with plenty of water, fresh air, skin protection and regular exercise, along with plenty of sleep and relaxation, then we give our body the best chance to age in a more graceful way. There’s a better chance you will enjoy the ride too!
Remember, age is just a number. Laughter lines, fine lines – even frown lines – characterize who we are. They do not mean it’s time to go under the surgeon’s knife. I have met women of all ages (wrinkles ’n’ all!) who radiate energy, vitality and beauty. Growing older is growing wiser; life is about loving yourself and accepting who you are. A healthy attitude is key here. It plays a significant role in how you regard yourself and others.
* Daily Body Boost
How do you feel when you stand naked in front of a mirror? Are you horrified, pleased, shocked or rapt? If you cannot stand in front of the mirror every morning and say ‘Wow – look at me’, then you definitely need to take on the daily body boost routine! We are often quick to criticise our body, be disappointed in it and abuse it – literally! Now is the beginning of the rest of your life and it is time to acknowledge the amazing machine that houses you. Your body is a temple, an incredible vehicle that transports you through life, no matter how it looks. I can guarantee there are people out there who would love to have your problem areas rather than theirs. Just remember, it’s ok to want to change your body, but do it with better health as your goal rather than focusing on weight loss or shape change. If the focus is on feeling better, there are fewer chances of disappointment when certain weight or size measurements are not achieved. Give yourself time to change if that is what you would like to have happen. Don’t expect miracle creams or surgery to ‘fix’ you! A daily body boost ritual will have you honouring and nurturing your body before you know it, and then you will see transformations unfold before your eyes! The focus is better health, not your size.
Take Care of the SUPERWOMAN in You!
I do know what it means to have little time. I know what it is like to have no extra money to take time and indulge ourselves when I really want to or need to. But I have discovered that ‘no time’ or ‘no money’ is no longer a valid excuse for not taking care of myself. Women are incredibly good at giving. They often put their own needs last in order to support or help someone else. I am suggesting you start to make yourself a priority. Take a bit of time out for you. Make it guilt-free and savour it. No one else will do it for you. There is only one person you can count on to do this and that is YOU.
Just think about it for a moment – if you did pay a little more time and attention to your own needs, how would that look? What would it feel like? Taking a few moments at the end of a busy day to run a bath, put on some music and light a candle is not a huge ask or expense. Using a natural exfoliant on your hands and painting your nails does wonders for how you feel about yourself, and a facial mask helps your skin glow and your mind unwind. All of these treats take little time or money.
I am no different from you or the countless other women out there trying to do their best. I just make it a priority to indulge myself at least once a day with some of the things I have spoken about here. I have also realized how important it is to the welfare of my husband, children, friends, family and work colleagues that I do take care. After all, when the woman of the house is happy and healthy life runs pretty smoothly for everyone else!
Prioritising your physical and emotional wellness is the key to a truly happy and vibrant life. Taking responsibility has a ripple effect, positively enhancing the lives of everyone around you. Treat yourself with the utmost respect and be grateful for where you are, right here, right now. Know you have the power to be an extraordinary human being without suffering Super Woman Syndrome. It is about feeling good in your own skin, being proud of who you are and who you are becoming.
You are an amazing Super Woman and you deserve the best!
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