Don’t Be a Superwoman! It’s Good for Your Health!

Don't Be a Superwoman! It's Good for Your Health

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Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Beverly Goldsmith, media and governmental spokesperson for Christian Science in Southern- Western Australia – VIC, SA and WA.

If you’re a mother then you may often find yourself juggling tasks – raising children, managing a household, holding down a job, caring for elderly relatives, and participating in family and community activities. Trying to fit everything into the daily schedule while remaining happy and healthy is demanding. It can cause a seemingly normal female to try and become a superwoman.

While no one is expected to “leap tall buildings,” the desire to be a super-individual and effectively accomplish every task can be tough to surrender. Hanging on to it can often lead to self-inflicted pressure, a false sense of responsibility, and feelings of guilt or failure if every job isn’t successfully completed. It can also make saying “no” that much harder.

Being an “I can do everything” type of person, and taking on too much each day, can also be unhealthy. According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., stress can occur because, “Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own.” Admirable though this may be, keeping on top of everything can lead to burn-out. That’s why “It’s okay,” Bufka says, “to relax your standards – don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ house or be the ‘perfect’ mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman.”

To get life into balance, maintain good health, and beat the stress factor, Dr. Bufka offers these suggestions: “Put things in perspective–make time for what’s really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.”

Stop the world. It’s time to get off.

It’s helpful advice to take on board, especially if you’re inclined to say yes to everything that’s asked of you. I once tried being a superwoman, until burdened-down, tired, and unhappy, I was forced to review my “to do” list. In writing down all, and I mean all, of my regular commitments, it was a shock to find there was no time left to draw breath. The list was cut.

TIP: Regularly check your “to do” list. It doesn’t have to keep building up. A good rule is: if you add something to it, then drop something off.  Overhaul your thinking and actions. Take a break from the treadmill of life. A poem by W.D. Longstaff, offers this advice. “Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each thought and each motive beneath His control.” This can mean slow the pace down, take time for quiet contemplation. When asked to do something, pause, think calmly, consider your schedule, check your motives, ask yourself if it’s right for you to accept yet another request.

Learn to say no. It’s OK.

Good people, busy people, and those who believe they’re the “can’t say no” type are often asked to do things for others. On such occasions, it’s useful to remember that it’s more than possible that your assistance may not be their only answer. It’s OK to decline.

One night at 11pm, my telephone rang. An acquaintance begged me to come immediately and back her car down her narrow driveway.  As I was deciding whether to get out of bed and drive 45 minutes to her, the thought came to pause and think before answering. My own genuine needs had always been met and often in most unexpected and wonderful ways. So I told her I wouldn’t be coming while reassuring her that there would be a solution. Her need would be met. As she angrily banged the phone down, I felt a pang of guilt for saying no. Ten minutes later, she called to say the problem was solved. A neighbour had seen her porch light on, and kindly moved her car.

TIP: Be kind to yourself. Resist saying yes to everyone. Don’t feel bad if you decide to say no. Keep a sense of balance. You’re worth looking after too. Doing this may take practice, but the good news is that it can help you not to over commit. Best of all, it can stop you trying to become superhuman. Instead, you’ll remain a normal, healthy, stress-free woman.

Link to Beverly Goldsmith’s blog

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.

Comments

  1. Judy says

    I also tend to be a “can’t say no” person, trying to juggle all things for all people. Thank you for the reassurance that it is God’s job to take care of all things…and I have permission to say NO occasionally.

    • says

      Thank you Judy for your comment. Too many of us are afraid to say no – even though we know it is taking on too much. There is that awful feeling of guilt and of letting someone down if we don’t agree to help them out. Yet many times I’ve seen wonderful ways that needs have been met. Right ideas have come to people and the situation has been resolved quickly and simply.

  2. says

    Ah, plenty of sound wisdom in that message. And while it addresses specifically the important roles of women, there are parallels for us all. There’s an old saying that if you need something done, ask a busy person. But if you happen to be that busy person, it’s not necessarily wise always to take on everything that comes along, no matter how pressing things may seem. Balance can be thought of as a divine quality that will not lead to burden or lack for anyone.

    • says

      Thank you Graham for your comment. You have exactly the right word there – balance. We need never doubt that the answer is there for everyone in every situation. Our answer may be to resist adding to our “to do ” list. It’s tempting to say yes to everything and everyone. Yet wisdom is needed and a pause before answering can help lead us to what is right for everyone involved.

  3. diana says

    I love that there was a solution for her friend, even though she didn’t go to back the car down the driveway! What blesses one, blesses all!

    • says

      Thank you Diana for your comment. Yes there is always an answer in every situation – and it isn’t always you or me. However, we can be assured that there is a solution for everyone.

  4. Anne says

    This blog’s message really spoke to me in spades. I had to learn this lesson many years ago, and it’s been invaluable.

    I think our American culture has almost expected the “super mom” image to apply to every woman. So it’s good to take stock of your lifestyle, set priorities, and be who you want to be and yes, who you were made to be.

    When I realized I’d rather do one or two things well rather than have my finger in ten different activities that were half done or left undone, I knew I was on to something. Dominion, self-control, peace of mind, and a feeling of worthy accomplishment entered my life, and I’ve never let go.

    Even when my children were young, I practiced having a half-hour of quiet time, when I didn’t want to be disturbed. I was amazed how they respected my privacy, and they’d play quietly until my door opened.

    Once one of them said, “Well, what if the house is burning down?” I assured all of them that in that case they should call me immediately. We shared a hearty laugh together!

    Thank you for addressing this subject. Women should not be made to feel quilty over the “super-mom” issue. An easy approach will do it and add to a healthier outlook in life.

  5. belle says

    I couldn’t agree more….I have a list of 16…each day, no more, no less…and love the idea of not adding to it without subtracting. I also need that list, by the way…it doesn’t demand more of me; it just doesn’t allow things to go undone. It’s a discipline, and that’s what I read in your article. Thanks, Beverly!

  6. Pamela says

    Oh wow this is sooooooooooo familiar. Every mom at some point thinks they have to do it all but we don’t. On the other hand if we are serving God first we will only do that which He directs and not just what we think is important. I love that Ann always took a half an hour for herself to pray or talk to God or whatever she did. I have found that if I am listening to the angel messages from my heavenly Father I will not take on more than I can handle. It is when I don’t listen for those messages that I get into trouble.

    So thanks Beverly for this wonderful reminder that being Super-Woman should not be our goal in life. Our goal should always be just to reflect and express all the qualities that God has given us. That will be enough.