I admit—it is hard for me to slow down. My friends know that if I did not have children, I could work myself into the ground. I could feasibly live in my office and work for hours on end. With a loving family waiting for me at the end of every day, my work has boundaries and my conquering spirit has to be tempered. Sometimes, I admit, this seems annoying, since there is always more to do. But this summer, I made a conscious effort to slow down, blocking my schedule and taking time to match my tempo to that of the season. I am only a month in but the lessons have been profound and may be helpful for other supposed “superwomen” out there.
The Gift of Sleep
Many women I meet are burning the candle at both ends. Up early and in bed late, there are never enough hours in the day. I know this because I am guilty of this as well. During the last month, however, I decided to give my body a break. I have crawled into bed an hour earlier but I left my early morning alarm the same. Even 30 minutes of extra sleep per night makes a profound difference in my energy and mood. I notice that I am happier and not as quick to get agitated about details out of my control. Like many changes that we all contemplate, even small shifts- 30 minutes in my case, can make a tremendous impact on our health and vitality.
The Key to the AHA Moment
Our minds are powerful tools and capable of amazing imagination and creation, but like any other machine, they need rest and an opportunity to recharge. I learned this on a recent trip to NYC with my children. Struggling for weeks to solve various issues at home and in the practice, I set everything aside and took a few hours to attend a Broadway show. I spent the next few hours laughing harder than I had for months. Later that night, the solution to what I had been wrestling with popped in my head instantly— a tired brain thankful for the rest and ready with answers! Those “aha” moments that we all seek in the many paths of our lives can only come when there is an opportunity to rest, disconnect and ignore the daily noise and clutter of our routines.
As a friend and doctor to many other superwomen, success at work can often mean disconnecting from loved ones. Sometimes it is beyond just getting home late every day and instead a mental fatigue that makes picking up that phone to check on a relative or friend even more exhausting. The pace of our work can leave us isolated and disconnected— ultimately impacting our mental health. I have savored the opportunity this summer to connect with friends, have dinner parties and spend more time with my children and husband. These connections are our core and without them, work can seem meaningless.
Connection builds community. This summer, I have had a chance to appreciate the community that surrounds me and the city that I call home. As many people have to move from city to city, building community can be challenging. This should be a goal for us that is at par with work success. Strong communities need strong women to lead with vision and direction. Time to breathe allows an opportunity to appreciate and give back to your community.
The art of nurturing, especially ourselves, may be a superwoman trait that gets lost. A true superwoman, however, has not lost this sense of nurturing herself and the women around her. Feeding ourselves and our family healthy food, taking time to exercise and our own self care are all necessary acts of nurturing, so that we in turn can nurture and mentor the many faces that look up to us. Take time to nurture yourself and create the energy needed to nurture others.
This summer, I did not write a book, open another practice or try to reach the moon. But the lessons I have learned this summer I will keep with me for many more years to come and as a reminder of the balance needed for all “superwomen.”