Have you ever felt the weight of life’s responsibilities weighing you down? Military spouses are pulled in so many directions, and are often left to handle many things on our own. For many of us, this becomes burdensome as we end up caring for others’ needs at the expense of our own. Our desires and needs go by the wayside as we try to take care of our loved ones without nurturing ourselves. There’s actually a term for this called the superwoman syndrome. Many of us fall victim to it, which can become a slippery slope. The more we neglect our own needs, the more negative the impact, not only for ourselves, but for everyone we interact with. Our overall well being begins to decline; we are physically and mentally exhausted until we reach a breaking point where we have no choice but to slow down and take care of ourselves like we should have been all along.
The key is to never get to that point. This is why prioritizing self-care is so important! If we take the time to recognize when we are wearing thin, we can make the changes needed to avoid a full on breakdown. By making the decision to put ourselves first, without feeling guilty about it, we free ourselves of undue stress and frustration, unhappiness and resentment towards those we love. In the grand scheme, we gain confidence, peace of mind, and learn to achieve a healthy balance in our lives.
If you think you may be suffering from superwoman syndrome, try these suggestions to refocus and make your self-care a priority.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your spouse, friends, and family when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The military community is filled with giving hearts and open arms. Take advantage of your community and resources. We all need a hand every now and then and you might even make some new friends in the process. Win, win!
Communicate your needs. Often we keep our feelings to ourselves because we feel like we are inconveniencing others or just want to avoid conflict. We expect our spouses or loved ones to just intuitively know what we need without telling them. Then when our needs are unmet, we become resentful. This can be avoided if you simply articulate your needs and desires. How do you do that? Easily. Be direct, don’t beat around the bush. Clearly state what your need is, and give an example if needed. Find the right time talk. Wait until you’re clear from distractions so you can be heard and understood. Be aware of the tone you use so as to not sound indifferent, angry or sarcastic. Listen for clarification. Make sure whomever you’re speaking to clearly understands what you are trying to convey.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s journey is different. If you’re scrolling through Facebook and see that one person who has it all together and feel like you should also be doing what they’re doing, just stop. You have no idea what their life is really like. A lot of people only present to the world the parts of their life they want people to see. Maybe that person really is fulfilled and on top of everything, but chances are they have the same struggles you do. Don’t let some arbitrary standard be how you measure your success. Success looks different for everyone, so find your own stride.
Let go of the guilt. Be realistic and cut yourself some slack. Taking time for yourself is NOT selfish. Everyone needs a break. When you are refreshed and energized, the sky is the limit. Rest, restore, and put forth the best version of yourself.