Anerissa May M. Cullado, 30, has been married for five years, with two boys aged 3 and 5 and is expecting another one in summer. She has been working in a bank for 10 years, but work doesn’t end in the office, it extends all the way at home. She is happy to be with a healthy family, but she can’t help feeling there are some days when she feels she has to do everything, especially with no household help around.
Rachel Alarcon, 30, works in an IT company in Dubai. She doesn’t feel comfortable delegating tasks and prefers doing things herself because she foresees more stress if she doesn’t.
These kinds of women have focused so much on others that they often forget about themselves. Sarah Jane Manto-Galido, M.D., a general practitioner based in the U.S., describes it as a “Superwoman Syndrome”—a condition in which a woman feels she has to be on top of everything and be available for everyone.
She explains, “Our bodies and minds are generally built to react to stress in order to protect ourselves from predators or other aggressors. Although we don’t have to fight for survival nowadays as much as the cavewomen [did], that doesn’t mean that we react differently. Women have to face multiple demands from their spouses, kids, own parents, bosses, even random strangers off the street. Women also have to look great and perform with grace under pressure, just because that’s how we are perceived.”
This perception, combined with the demands put on the individual, may eventually result in feelings of resentment or burnout, or may be expressed in unhealthy eating habits. Dr. Manto-Galido candidly says: “The Superwoman Syndrome has to stop.”
Loving the self
Once they’ve stopped playing that role, then maybe women can learn how to lavish love on themselves and affirm that they are worthy of admiration, praise and reward. Admittedly, the starting point to self-care may be rocky, and Dr. Manto-Galido says the first thing you have to do is be calm. Try these tips:
• Be assertive. Learn to express yourself—thoughts, feelings, beliefs—while still respecting others. If you’re feeling stretched and overscheduled, speak up.
• Be realistic. Don't try to be perfect—no one is. Expecting others to be perfect can add to your stress level, too. If you need help on something, ask for it.
• Learn to delegate and ask for help—you really don't have to do everything. If your kids are old enough, ask them for help with housework. Ask your husband to lend a helping hand at home.
• Get a good night's sleep. Just rest!
• Relax. Learn simple breathing exercises that come handy in stressful situations. Read a good book, make time for a hobby or just take a soothing bath.
• Treat your body well with exercise and proper diet.
• Build your own support system and form effective relationships.
• Pray or meditate.