The toll “doing it all” takes on your health.
Time and time again I have seen my friends and clients struggle with “superwoman syndrome,” a phenomena publicly decried since at least the 1970s. This term summarizes the societal pressure on a woman to not only perform but excel in all of her careers: her career in the workforce, her career as a mother, her career as a wife, and her career as a friend. Quite frankly, it’s impossible to meet this expectation. I am not saying that a woman cannot do all of these things in her life, and do them well—she can—but she cannot do them perfectly.
“Perfect” is a tricky little word, an insidious concept that has seeped into fibers of femininity. Th e perfect superwoman ideal deludes her into stringing a tightrope between her home and her office, over soccer games, parent-teacher conferences, dinner, and presentations at work. It then forces her to walk this hair-thin suspension while carrying a spouse, 2.5 kids, and the dog—and wearing high heels. Th is superwoman must appear thin, beautiful, graceful, humble, and fun, and do so effortlessly. It’s impossible to check every box. I can feel my heart beating faster just thinking about it.
The thing about stress is that the body cannot tell the difference between physical and psychological stress. It reacts the same way to both. Whether it’s a fight with your child or a fender bender, the exact same physiological process occurs within your body. Superwoman syndrome, and the accompanying physical and psychological strain it creates, is no exception.
Running on Fumes
So, what happens when your body feels constantly under attack; when you’re anxious, overworked, and exhausted; when your stress response stays on high alert? In chronically stressful situations, the parasympathetic nervous systems does not kick in to relax your body into a state where it can rest and perform critical functions, such as tissue repair and menstruation. Dramatic hormonal and other disruptions continue to occur, possibly to the point of damaging your body. Some of these disruptions affect your hormones.
Reproductive Hormones: Have you ever missed your period because you were stressed out? Interference with reproductive hormones due to stress can lead to a disruption of the menstrual cycle. This can interrupt the release of progesterone—a vital hormone, especially for female health, that counterbalances estrogen and creates perimenopause symptoms when deficient. Testosterone
levels drop too, leading to problems in both sexes, including decreased libido, muscle loss, slowed metabolism, weakened bones, and increased anxiety and depression.
Thyroid Hormone: Stress causes the thyroid, usually stimulated by the adrenal glands to produce hormones, to produce less thyroid hormone, which can lead to thyroid dysfunction, such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Insulin: When the body is stressed, insulin levels decrease and cells become less responsive to its actions, raising blood sugar levels and, over time, contributing to insulin resistance.
Catecholamines: Catecholamines are a class of hormones that includes dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Stress increases catecholamine levels, which in turn elevates heart
rate, slows digestion, and increases water retention and blood pressure.
Why Am I Always So Tired?
If you’re one of the many feeling overworked and exhausted more days than you aren’t, I’m here to help. Yesterday, I spent an hour live on Facebook taking your burning questions regarding exhaustion and fatigue at any age and stage. To tune into the replay, head over to my Facebook fan page and click the video tab to your left.
For even more help, pre-order your copy of Before the Change—with the release date just around the corner on September 5th. This full update is a must-read for any woman 18-80! It’s filled with new research, including the latest information on Hormone Replacement Therapy, mood swings, weight gain, and nutrition for women thirty-five and older.
• Before the Change Companion Workbook
• Report: 3 Steps to Hormone Happiness
• 20% Discount on Natural Progesterone Crème
Mental and physical exhaustion doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—be your daily norm.