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Mind

5 techniques to help wind down

Dr Libby Weaver discusses Rushing Woman’s Syndrome and how to beat it

Are you constantly one step ahead or behind yourself at any given moment, always feeling a bit frantic, with thoughts that race and jump from task to task? Perhaps you're driven by a worry that you will be judged if you don't get enough done today – or by an internal judge who is never satisfied. Maybe you unconsciously fear you will be disapproved of – perceived as not competent, capable or hard working enough; not a good enough parent, employee, partner, friend, daughter.
If any or all of this is familiar to you, it's possible you have what I fondly refer to as Rushing Woman's Syndrome. This isn't a real medical diagnosis, of course. It's a term I phrased just over 10 years ago as I was first witnessing a momentous change in the pace of everyday living and the significant health challenges that were arising as a consequence.
A decade on and the rush seems to be the norm now. You rush because you care and yet you also care what others think of you. You rush because you believe that any time not spent accomplishing a task is time wasted, and you do this because you perceive that your worth is tied up with your achievements and that others will think well of you if you do x, y and z.
'It is possible to live a full and busy life without the rush'
In reality, two things are true: it is possible to live a full and busy life without the rush and it is possible to choose a slower pace if that feels better for your health and your lifestyle. Yet for many, retiring the rush feels impossible. This is partly because it's really hard to see a different way of living when you're always so tired. And because the relentless presence of stress hormones speeds everything up inside of you. Caffeine, too, plays a role. Usually a rushing woman's best friend, it's difficult to achieve a sense of calm when caffeine is influencing your biochemistry. Mostly, it's because you're terrified of ever letting anyone down, and so you prioritise being all things to all people over your own health and happiness.
When you're always down the bottom of your own priority list, it can be a hard habit to change. To be so caught up in getting everyone out the door on time that you miss your child's pure delight from playing with the dog.
If the pace of your life stresses you out, then I encourage you to consider what might be driving your rush and take steps to slow down. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Mindful practices
Engage in practices that help to slow your mind and body down such as tai chi, qigong, meditation or walking in nature. Even just 20 long, slow, focused breaths, in and out through your nose, at several intervals across the day can make a difference. There will be times when you need to pick up the pace, but the more you encourage slowness in your day, the more you will realise we can still be busy and mindful at the same time.
2. Flex your "No" muscle
While there are things that all of us need to do whether we want to or not, there are several that you may be doing out of duty or obligation or to people please. Become discerning about why you're saying yes and practice being honest about those things that really feel
like an internal "no".
3. Create spaciousness
Even if it's just five minutes each day, take some time to yourself to do something that nourishes your soul. Start small and grow it. 4. Reduce caffeine or take a break from it
While it may feel like you cannot cope without coffee, after a few days you will likely be surprised how much more energy you have when you drink less of it or go without it altogether. Caffeine triggers the production of your stress hormone adrenaline, so if you're already feeling stressed, it only makes it worse.
5. Delegate
How much do you do from the belief that "if I don't do it, it won't get done"? While people may have come to rely on you to carry out certain tasks on their behalf, consider what you could hand back to them to complete themselves. It might be that you have school-aged children, for example, who could make their own lunches. You may be surprised who will step up to support you if you give them the opportunity to do so.
Dr Libby has just released her "Overcoming Rushing Woman's Syndrome" 30-day online course designed to teach you how to truly reduce your stress – and the negative health consequences it can elicit –while living a full and thriving life. See drlibby.com/courses

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