A full day's work, then dashing home to sort the kids' homework, cook dinner and organise the house is a regular day for many women. Then the weekend is full of sports matches, chores and housework. If you feel you are always on the go balancing work and home, you are one of many. Nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver says this phenomenon is taking its toll on women's health, leaving us stressed and even leading to illness. Here are excerpts from her book Rushing Woman's Syndrome
Rushing Woman's Syndrome evolved out of my observation of a shift in women's health and behaviour over the past 14 years.
Never before in my work have I witnessed so many females in a mad rush to do everything and be all things to all people.
Never before have I seen the extent of reproductive system problems that I now see. Women are wired. Many of them are tired, too.
Tired yet wired. This relentless urgency, this perception that there is not enough time, combined with a to-do list that is never all crossed off, is having such significant health consequences for women that I had to write a book about it.
The perceived need to rush, whether a woman displays it on the outside or keeps it under wraps, is changing the face of women's health as we know it in such a detrimental way.
Sex hormone-based health problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, infertility and debilitating menopauses, not to mention exhaustion, have never been greater, and the role of stress in this is undeniable when you look at both the body's chemistry and the scientific research.
A woman's body cannot keep up with the rate of change the world now asks of it and it is imperative we understand this and take steps in our lives to create periods of downtime, time in days, weeks or months when we can truly rest.
Just as we cannot go without sleep for too long, our psyches cannot push on for too long without some quality downtime. If it does, science is teaching us, and of course our intuition tells us, there will be consequences.
The past two decades _ which have included the birth of the Internet and the invention of cellphones _ have unleashed the most rapid period of change in human history. Not that long ago, when you left the house to go shopping or take children to school or while you drove from home to work, you were unreachable.
Now, not only do our cellphones ring but they ping with the arrival of emails and social media comments. The majority of women I know don't sit idle when the traffic lights are red ... they check for a text, emails, or the latest news from their favourite social media portal.
Once upon a time, when the lights were red, we let our minds wander or noticed the colour of the sky or felt grateful or listened to a great song on the radio. There was naturally, without effort, more food for our souls and downtime in our lives.
Now many people eat ``food'' containing non-food ingredients out of packets because they are in such a hurry. Food has to be convenient for many people or it is not on their menu. And the faster the better. But there's a cost as somewhere inside you, you know, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
Do you have Rushing Woman's Syndrome? The following checklist will help you identify if you have it.
A RUSHING WOMAN:
- <br/> Loves coffee to the point that she feels deprived if she cannot get her daily fix and she tells herself that she needs it for energy, to help her brain function, or so she can make her bowels move
- <br/>Answers ``so busy'' or ``stressed'' when you ask her how she is <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, pumping through her veins more often than not <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has low progesterone <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has problems with her periods which might look like polycystic ovarian syndrome, heavy, clotty periods, irregular periods, PMS or a debilitating menopause <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Tends to crave sugar, particularly mid-afternoon or close to menstruation <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Feels overwhelmed often <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has poor short-term memory <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Never feels like there is enough hours in the day <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Overreacts easily even if she doesn't display it outwardly <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Often feels tired but wired <br/> <br/>
- <br/>May have a thyroid gland that bounces between an underactive tendency and an overactive tendency <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Can't sit down as she will feel so guilty ... unless she is beyond tired ... then she will sit but still feels guilty <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Sleeps too little <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Sometimes can't sleep restoratively <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Compromises sleep to get jobs done later at night <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Is irritable or, as I prefer to say, gritty <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Wants to speed when she drives, whether she needs to or not <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Wonders why everyone else drives so slow, whether they do or not <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has no solitude, no time for self, and will tell you that's selfish or a luxury she could never have <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has a to-do list that is never, ever all crossed off and this bothers her <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Feels a sense of panic easily <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Often has digestive system problems ie, bloating or IBS <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Is so exhausted, particularly in the afternoon, a time when she is also more likely to feel like she cannot cope with her life ... sugar, caffeine or alcohol feel like the only options at this time <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Doesn't regularly notice the special moments she is part of ... life feels mostly chaotic <br/> <br/>
- <br/>She laughs less than she used to <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Finds it difficult to relax without wine <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Has a mental fuzziness/haze/brain fog she only notices is there when she has a random day when it is not <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Beats herself up for not being a good enough wife/mother/friend <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Is constantly looking for more ways to feel love or be praised, whether she can see this or not <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Feels anxious without her cellphone on her constantly ... she can catch herself constantly pushing the refresh screen button thinking ``what if I miss an important text or phone call?'' and takes her phone to the toilet for this reason <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Goes on holiday only to spend the majority of the time thinking she must unwind yet never actually resting. Holidays simply become an extension of her usual life <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Tends to return from a break feeling even more exhausted than before she left <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Takes short and shallow breaths and can often become breathless; may sigh frequently <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Low appetite or, on the contrary, feels as though she could eat her arm off, particularly at night <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Can tend to blame others for adding to her workload or ``stressing her out'' when a lot of the stress comes from her own internal pressures <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Whilst trying to achieve as much as possible in the day can catch herself checking emails in the bathroom, at traffic lights or late at night <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Goes to guilt as a common emotional pattern <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Doesn't usually ask for help <br/> <br/>
- <br/>Can't say no easily and if she does she feels guilty!
How many of the above statements do you relate to? To have a bit of fun with this, count up the number of statements you relate to and explore your level of rushing using the scale below!
0 = This book is not for you. But, before you put it aside, read on as it will more than likely relate to some of your friends!
1-4 = You are not a Rushing Woman. Instead, use this book to identify the areas of your endocrine system that may need some extra support. For example, if you experience PMS, apply the strategies suggested for that particular condition.
5-7 = You are well on your way to becoming a Rushing Woman! Apply the strategies suggested to support both your physical and emotional health and get your score down and level of wellbeing up!
7 or above = Hello Rushing Woman. It is a delight to meet you and to be able to help you come down from the stress mountain.-->-->