By Amy Heiman*, M.S., LCPC
Women today wear many hats — mother, wife, career woman, organizer, negotiator, taxi service, psychologist, cook, lover, friend, sister, daughter... and the list goes on. It's no wonder women are often stressed out. Managing all of these roles is a delicate balancing act that may never go perfectly. But being too "out of balance" can lead to a variety of symptoms including irritability, tearfulness, sleep disturbance, appetite change, depressed mood, poor concentration, feeling overwhelmed, and hopelessness, along with a variety of physical problems such as headaches, backaches and digestive problems.
Women are particularly vulnerable to stress because we are socialized to be caretakers. Women are less likely to be in positions of power and are not as in control of their environments as most men. Women also often try to be everything to everyone at all times. Then, when we recognize the need to slow down, we have difficulty accomplishing this because of feelings of guilt. And women frequently believe it is selfish to take time for themselves.
The following are a few time management tips to help prevent "superwoman" burnout. First, find your "prime time" and devote it to your most important projects. Second, ask yourself the following questions: "is this activity necessary?"; "Can someone else do it?"; "Does it coincide with my priorities?"; Third, avoid procrastination. Do it right away and don't be a perfectionist. Fourth, allow yourself regular leisure time (30-60 minutes per day). Plan this time and set it aside. Fifth, insist on help with regular chores. And finally, learnt how to say "no." Say it fast, be polite and offer a counterproposal, if necessary, but stick to your guns.
Superwoman is a fictional character. We will eventually be no good to anyone that we care about if we don't take care of ourselves first. Try doing something for YOU today — you deserve it!