When was the last time you gave yourself permission to not be perfect? Mummy guilt. Competitiveness. Superwoman syndrome. I think most women have experienced one or all of the above whether we’ve really thought about it or not. Having experienced them first-hand myself, I believe they can also contribute to depression, stress, isolation, burnout and anxiety. They all have so much potential to eat away at our emotional and physical health, and are sadly often reinforced by the media and those around us who we depend on or look to for support.
This weekend I’ve been on my latest module for my advanced yoga teacher’s training: Yoga for women’s health. And it’s given me a lot of food for thought. As women we go through so many phases hormonally throughout our lifetime we’re on a permanent rollercoaster that’s essentially out of our control (puberty, menstruation cycle, pregnancy, postnatal, perimenopause, menopause…and all the in-betweens!).
Pair that with the expectations of being the perfect wife, mother, partner, friend, worker/student, while also holding down a household, managing a social life, maintaining financial stability and giving the appearance of holding it all together can really take it’s toll. Something has to give and our personal time and health are typically what suffers.
Where do we begin to fix this?
As women we should be lifting each other up, helping each other out, empowering each other and giving each other permission to not be perfect. However, all it takes is a quick scan down your latest social media feed to see that this isn’t happening as much as it should. Catty, judgemental comments. Images of perfect women in advertising and social influencers (who typically don’t actually look like that in real life and more often than not have the same body type which has been posed, airbrushed and filtered). Inspirational quotes and posts telling you to do everything, be everything and have everything; essentially the unattainable which ultimately results in permanently feeling inadequate. If we could just earn a little more money, go to the gym a bit more, fit a little more into our day, reduce a few more calories from our meals… but at what point do we actually reach happiness and contentment? Or will there always be another benchmark to aim for?
It’s no wonder we keep pushing ourselves to our limits, but we don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it all! In a world where chronic fatigue syndrome and hormonal imbalances are becoming more prevalent, as are depression and stress-related health conditions, we need to be able to give ourselves a break from this goal of perfection. We need to be mindful of the words we’re saying to others and the images we pay attention to, and know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be imperfect. This is even more important if there are children around who look up to you, as they form their ideas about life by what they see every day; what you are showing them.
Sometimes we should just ignore the pile of dishes and put our feet up when we are menstruating. We should be offering to help other mums, friends or colleagues who are struggling to cope. We shouldn’t be judging other mums for how they’re parenting. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. And if we are stressed out, we shouldn’t be afraid of being vulnerable and asking for – or accepting- help from others.
Image / NZ Real Health