Burnout, Superwoman and being ‘Too Busy’

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‘No’ is a complete sentence and we need to get more comfortable saying ‘no’. We have the right, and quite frankly, the responsibility to say ‘no’ when don’t feel like doing something, when we don’t have the energy, the desire, when we are uncomfortable or simply when we’re exhausted.

It seems like we have shifted into a culture that values being ‘too busy’ and being exhausted. We wear busyness, exhaustion and stress as badges of honour that legitimize our place in the world. You might think this is an exaggeration or ‘millennial complaining’, but think about a time where you may have used the guise of busyness in your life. Were you ‘too busy’ to exercise? Too busy to catch up with friends? Too busy to spend time with family? We’ve all had experiences in our lives that have prevented us from putting ourselves first and focusing on the things that make our lives easier, and more enjoyable.

In fact, women are some of the worst offenders when it comes to taking too much on and not taking enough time for themselves. The ‘Superwoman myth’ has long plagued mothers by putting pressure on women to be a professional, a mother, a friend, a wife, a housekeeper, an excellent athlete and to save the world in their downtime. It’s the message that if women aren’t “running the corporate law firm and putting the perfect dinner on the table and running the perfect home and being totally sexy all the time they’re somehow falling short.”

But let’s get real, it’s impossible for women to meet these ridiculous standards. Especially in a place like Alberta where women are burdened with working a “double day, averaging 35 hours of unpaid work weekly, compared to 17 hours for Alberta men.” We haven’t created systems and the opportunities for women to access flexible childcare, affordable day care, family-friendly policies and partners who take on a greater share of the domestic duties. It comes as no surprise that studies show that women tend to burnout more frequently than men.

Recognizing that this week is Mental Health Awareness, how do we create a system that breaks the stigma on busyness, burnout and the superhero myth that prevents us from practicing self-care? The first few steps we can take to address some of the self-care needs are:

  • Go into airplane mode—even if it’s just for a little while;
  • Get some exercise and move your body, but in ways that feel good for you;
  • Go outside;
  • Take a hot bath;
  • Pick up your favorite treat;
  • Try mindfulness.

This weekend, try and practice some self-care. Try out one of our tips, or practice your own and send us a line about what works best for you, communications@ywcalgary.ca