Ditching the Superwoman Myth: Why Rest Isn’t a Failure.

Why do so many women feel like they need to be Superwoman, and do all the things, all the time without ever having depleted energy or prioritising rest?

When I started working with my then new business coach, Emma, she made it clear to me that she was unavailable every day between two and three in the afternoon. At the time, I assumed she had school pick up like so many women who cut their day job short to become the afternoon sports/drama/music chauffeur. 

“You have pick up?” I asked her. 

“No,” she replied. “I have a nap.”

“You have a what now?” I have no poker face capabilities so no doubt my face told a thousand stories. 

“It started after I had covid and I just couldn’t shake the exhaustion,” she explained. “Now, it’s just become part of my daily routine. I’m much more productive in the afternoons since doing this.”

As someone who used to cram as much work into a day as I could, including writing emails from the sidelines of afternoon sports, or picking up client sessions after family dinner, I was gob smacked. 

Imagine? A daily nap! It’s a luxury that many of us feel are for the siesta-ing Europeans, babies or old but the truth is, all brains, young, old and everything in between, benefit from rest.

Why you need good rest

Your beautiful brain is a powerhouse tirelessly processing information all day every day. You are constantly bombarded by data. Not only via technology which has added a whole new layer of information dumping into the brain deluge, but all the stimulus that comes in through your five senses at all times. Rest helps you to manage all that data. 

Research regarding the influence of rest on the brain tells us that sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body. While we may have been fixated on eating kale and quinoa, or infrared saunas and ice baths, the easiest solution was under our noses all along while we late night binge watched Game of Thrones. 

Sleep assumes a pivotal role in memory organization, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. When you sleep your brain files and discards any head clutter so you can have better cognitive function. But rest is not relegated only to catching zeds. Restorative activities work similar wonders on the brain and the nervous system but take less time, and can be done anywhere. As little as two to ten minutes of a restorative activity can profoundly impact your problem-solving prowess and decision-making acumen. 

So, if all of this functional juicy rest goodness is available to us, why does cashing in on that feel like we’re somehow failing or not being productive?

The answer is simple. Conditioning. 

RELATED CONTENT : Are Your Crappy Boundaries Causing Burnout?

Many of us have fallen into the trap of feeling that we need to continuously push and “do” in order to prove our worth. 

Renowned women’s health expert, Dr Mindy Pelz, spoke recently about the dysregulations that happen in women’s systems on her podcast, Resetter. She shared many nuggets of gold and I highly recommend the episode but she referred often to the “patriarchal pace” that many women run at in spite of having fluctuating hormones, enormous mental load outside of her career, and the internal pressure she often feels to perform, achieve and prove herself in a fast paced world. 

Imagine, instead, creating a pace for yourself and your life that allowed space for rest not instead of productivity but as part of your regime to ensure healthy productivity? A pace that honours your energy, supports your nervous system and allows holistic success. 

It didn’t take long for me to adopt Coach Emma’s thinking. It’s not an hour long nap every day, but I have implemented moments of downtime, or “pops” of rest into my day to ensure that my brain, nervous system and energy are all as excited about my career moves as I am. 

Will you create your own pace?