There are many similarities between most of our clients who are experiencing Feminine Burnout. One of those traits is that they have trouble asking for help, which I wrote about last week.
This week, however, I want to talk about the woman who doesn’t make time for herself.
Again, I know this woman well because not only have I treated thousands of women like this, but I have also been that woman.
Not making time for yourself has a lot to do with energy, time management, and fatigue – the Feminine Burnout trifecta.
Let me tell you about my client Linda.
When You Don’t Make Time For Yourself: Linda’s Story
Linda is a woman in her late 30’s who has children from her first marriage, and a child with her current partner. Outside of the home, she runs a super successful business.
She is booked and busy. But not in a good way.
Her schedule is jam-packed every single day from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed. But nothing in that schedule is for herself. For example, when an old friend calls her up asking her to grab lunch while they’re in town, Linda can’t find any space to squeeze it in and promises to make up for it ‘next time’.
Linda is constantly rearranging her schedule, double booking herself, and wishing she had more time. A cycle she can’t seem to escape. She skips doctor’s appointments, visits to the dentist, self-care appointments, etc. Essentially, anything that isn’t deemed “productive”, she skips out on because it’s just too hard to find the time.
She can’t remember the last time she took a vacation for more than a day or two and the last time she went away with her husband, it was awful. They fought the whole time, she couldn’t relax, and she was still answering work emails. She came home more anxious and stressed than she was when she left and she hasn’t been eager to repeat that experience.
Raise your hand if you’ve tried to take a vacation but found yourself answering work emails and finding it difficult to relax.
Linda describes her life as constantly putting out fires, which as a recovering Superwoman I can totally relate to. Instead of prioritizing her needs, Linda finds herself canceling and rebooking things so she can accommodate her kids, her staff, and her husband, because she’s always taking care of the urgent needs of others.
Visiting with friends or relaxing on the couch aren’t in the cards for Linda. She doesn’t like to admit it, but sometimes she even lies about her work so she can get a few minutes or hours of peace. She wouldn’t be able to handle it if others knew she was resting and being (in her terms) “lazy”, so she pretends she is working. But even then, she is so worried about getting caught and thinking about all the things she should be doing that she doesn’t get any real, restorative relaxing in.
The only time she gets to slow down is when she gets sick (this is stage 2 of the Feminine Burnout cycle).
Once or twice a year she will get hit with a virus that puts her out of commission for a week or two but even then, she spends the whole time feeling guilty, trying to make up for lost work. Then, like the Superwoman she is, she jumps right back on the hamster wheel (stage 3 of the Feminine Burnout cycle).
Her body is offline, but her brain is still running in overdrive.
Linda invests a lot of money into online courses, workbooks, and products that she is sure will be the solution to her tornado of a life, and then doesn’t touch them. She recently discovered she’s been paying over $500 a month for a corporate scheduling software that was going to revamp her life that she hasn’t implemented or touched in over a year. And another training that she paid over $1000 for and hasn’t even made a login yet.
It’s affecting her relationship too. Her conversations with her partner are almost always about work, the kids, and the house. She longs for that connection, the deep eye gaze and sparks that she used to get when they touched. She misses what they used to be.
She’s also experiencing the physical symptoms of burnout.
Physical symptoms of Feminine Burnout that Linda is noticing:
So how does Linda heal from Feminine Burnout?
At the end of the day, we are not meant to ignore the parts of ourselves that need rest, compassion, relaxation, and peace.
If growing up you were rewarded for achieving more, being better, running faster, getting higher grades, etc. there is a good chance you have a poor relationship with these feminine characteristics - rest, compassion, stillness.
When we ignore our natural human need for balance in these areas we become stressed, with high tension, we stop sleeping restfully, we become disconnected from loved ones, and we start faking happiness to those around us.
And if you do that for enough time, you’ll inevitably start to feel the mental and physical effects of running on empty and over committing yourself.
Linda needed to learn that she can be just as successful AND make time for herself. She needed to learn how to become the woman who can relax and have faith that it will all get done. Because when she is relaxed, rested and full - life starts to happen with ease.
So many Superwomen live their lives like this, putting out one fire to the next, with no space in their schedules or their brains for themselves. They often start to alienate the people in their lives that they care about because there just isn’t enough space for them.
Fixing this isn’t as simple as finding the right program or the right assistant, or “it will get better when x happens”. Linda is the perfect example of how that can fail if you aren’t intentional about what you’re doing.
Like Linda, if this sounds like you, you need to do the inner work. You need to honour your feminine desire for rest and relaxation and undo all the conditioning that tells you you're lazy. You need to find strength in being grounded so you can show up for yourself and others will feel your presence. And you need to stop running away from what might happen when all is quiet.
This is where the healing starts and how we undo the damage of Feminine Burnout. By teaching ourselves that we are worthy of it and making the room for healing and implementing it in a way that will actually stick.
If this sounds like you and you are ready to break the pattern too, click here to fill out an application to work with me in my Feminine Burnout Recovery program.
I also recommend listening to episode 63 of The Pleasure Principles podcast where I talk more in depth about Linda and her healing.
Stay tuned for more episodes of this series where I dive into the lives and experiences of women living with Feminine Burnout and how it affects their lives, relationships, health and success.