Superwoman: Are you always stressed?

Superwoman: Are you always stressed?

...Are you a perfectionist? Do you find it hard to say no to others? Are you exhausted? Do you find it tough to put your needs before those of others? Do you allow yourself to relax?

Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz first coined the term “Superwoman Syndrome” in 1984, defining women who are trying to do it all. These are women who are multi-tasking numerous roles in their personal and professional lives, or perhaps, women who are focusing on one key role but who set beyond reasonable expectations for themselves. They are high achievers who commonly measure self-worth entirely in terms of their productivity and tangible accomplishments.

Sounds familiar?

Unfortunately, by doing so, these Superwomen are making life so stressful for themselves and the people around them that they are constantly missing out on the experiences of joy and satisfaction. Their fulfilment is always in the future and never in the present, often leading to exhaustion, and ultimately burnout or other stress-induced illnesses e.g. depression, nervous breakdowns.


Professional coach Sari Marsden, our previous #BUSYWOMENINSPIRE feature, multi-medalist fitness model physique competitor & Nike+ Training Club trainer, shares how she encounters many ‘Superwomen’ inside and outside the gym.

“What often makes things harder is that, even when overburdened by their commitments, Superwomen prefer not to ask for and/or accept support. They are constantly drowning in a sea of over-commitment.

The two key reasons I see are: (i) She does not want to be a burden and worries that others are already busy enough and do not have the time or the energy to support someone else; (ii) She views asking for and accepting support as a sign of weakness. Her whole identity is wrapped up in her ability to do everything required on her own, and she sees the need for support as a fundamental flaw in her own character.

Working with people at this level to slowly reveal how their beliefs are keeping them imprisoned in a box of their own making is one of the most rewarding elements of my work. One of the biggest shifts I see in people with whom I work with is their willingness to be supported – to allow another person in – whether it be a coach, mentor or simply, a listening ear.

Over the years, I have learnt that it requires a lot more strength to be open and vulnerable to the support of others than it does to be closed and go through life like a rock – it does not take much strength to be a rock.”

Is it reasonable to neglect our bodies, minds & wellness for the benefit of others or to not put our wellbeing (mind & body) as our utmost priority?

We are not saying that you should not strive to achieve, or over-achieve! The question is how can you strive to achieve some peace and calm at the same time. Our message to you is to first and foremost, understand yourself and know that your self-worth is not wrapped up in what you do or do not achieve. You are not your results, you have results, just like you are not your phone, but you have a phone.

Know what makes you feel good and what stimulates or recharges you – if that means spending your weekends working your ass off to pursue that passion of yours or waking up at 5am for a bootcamp session before work, then so be it, but know that your identity is not at stake.

As Sari so aptly puts it in her forthcoming book, “Fit To Lead”, “Work/life balance is a myth, there is simply life and how you choose to live it.”

We can’t all be experts on every subject and being open to learning from someone else who is more skilled than you in an area, can only benefit you! Develop the capacity to receive support on your journey. No one said you have to go through life on your own – start by setting aside your ego for a moment and know that you CAN improve and even achieve more if you accept support.

If you identify with “Superwoman Syndrome”, or tend to lean towards it (we know we sometimes do!), then acknowledging it is the first step to living better! Together, let’s help abolish the notion that you have to be “Superwoman” in order for your life to matter. The idea of being “all things to all people” could be part of the reason why you are not truly happy and healthy.

Invest in your health and happiness despite your busy schedule – practice self-love and create some “me-time”. Surround yourself with positivity and like-minded Busy Women with #TEAMBUSYWOMAN. Love yourself, ladies! Share this with another lady or friend who might benefit from this xx

Article written in conjunction with Performance Coach, Sari Marsden, Co-founder of Sarius Performance, multi-medalist fitness model physique competitor and Nike+ Training Club trainer. Sari has numerous certifications and accreditations in the fitness & coaching space including Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF). Sari and her husband Marcus are publishing their upcoming book “Fit to Lead” in May 2017.