Rushing Woman Sydrome | Event Report | Professionelle

By Cheryl Bowie

jenny brooks - photo_150x150

It was a great honour to welcome Jenny Brook from Dr Libby’s office to our first Auckland networking seminar for the year. Given her busy client schedule, we felt grateful to have her with us to share some of her wisdom and tips for making some key changes. The hope was that we could help our members start the year productively, with increased self-awareness about the “rushing around” and how our daily habits exacerbate the feelings of rushing and stress and adversely impacting our health and our relationships.

We were delighted with the uptake for this event – it sold out very quickly. Clearly this is a topic that resonates, so I thought I would provide a debrief to allow the rest of our members to share in Jenny’s wisdom as well as to draw from some of the reflections from the women who attended.

An overview of the seminar

Jenny opened by giving us an insight into what Rushing Women Syndrome is and shared a checklist to help us determine if we were indeed Rushing Women. You:

  • often answer “so busy” or “so stressed” when someone asks how you are
  • have painful menstrual cycles or terrible PMS or a debilitating menopause. In the days leading up to menstruation, you could demolish anything or anyone in your path
  • crave sugar, particularly mid-afternoon or close to menstruation
  • often feel overwhelmed and anxious and you panic easily – you can feel your heart racing even when you are sitting still and you feel like you are running on adrenalin
  • feel so tired… but so wired
  • never feel like there are enough hours in the day. While trying to achieve as much as possible you check emails in the bathroom, at traffic lights, or late at night
  • sleep too little and often can’t sleep restoratively (deep sleep). You often find yourself compromising sleep to get jobs done later at night
  • spend no time in solitude, feel there is no time for self, and believe these things to be selfish or a luxury you just don’t have time for
  • are irritable or, as Jenny prefers to say, “gritty”
  • overreact easily even if you don’t display it outwardly
  • laugh less than you used to
  • have a to-do list that is never, ever, all crossed off and this bothers you
  • have digestive problems such as bloating or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • have a mental fuzziness/haze/brain fog that you only notice is there on a random day when it is not
  • often resort to guilt as a common emotional pattern. You beat yourself up for not being a good enough partner/wife/mother/friend
  • feel anxious without your cell phone on you constantly… you can catch yourself constantly pushing the refresh screen button thinking-“what if I miss an important text or phone call?” and you take your phone to the toilet for this reason
  • have low appetite or, to the contrary, feel as though you could eat your arm off, you get so hungry!
  • take short and shallow breaths and can often become breathless;  you also may sigh frequently
  • Lastly, you find it difficult to relax without wine, particularly at night.

There were lots of grins and knowing looks at each other that suggested that most of us could identify many of these symptoms, so she definitely had our attention.


Rushing-Woman-SyndromeShe then moved on to biochemical aspects of what happens when we rush and have the stress hormones in our systems.  We won’t go into all the details here, but it means our nervous systems are constantly abuzz. With the cocktail of chemicals sloshing around in our systems it’s little wonder we can’t sleep restoratively, we can’t lose weight, we can’t relax, we can’t digest properly, we can’t seem to have a normal menstrual cycle, we can’t get pregnant …and so on.  As women, we are our hormones and if the stress hormones are introduced for too long it puts all other hormones out of balance.

Jenny then challenged us to think about what would we start doing, what we would stop doing and what would we continue doing as a result of the information  she had provided us with.  She challenged us to think about what the “rush” was costing us personally.   Our closest relationships? Our health? Our self-worth and self-care? Our ability to role model for our kids? Our careers? Our financial abundance?  Our sense of peace?  Our quality of life?

Here’s what some our members shared when I asked for some tips:

We all know these messages; we just need TO MAKE THE TIME and have the courage to break habits.  That was one of my key take home messages – BREAK THE BAD HABITS.  And the fact that it will be easier than we think – 21 days and you’ve done it.  Block it out and do one thing at a time.  Giving up coffee (not wine!) will be my first.

We should all HAVE THE COURAGE TO BE IMPERFECT.  Sometimes it just simply doesn’t matter if we achieve 90% not 110%.  It may just mean re-prioritising. I have stopped beating myself up about things that just don’t matter!

I loved the suggestion at the event of making routines like lighting candles at the end of the day at home to signal to yourself ‘you’re home now, relax, slow down, this is your haven’.  I am going to start doing that now.

Learning to say NO.  You’ve heard the saying “when you need something done ask a busy person”….but if your week is already full: ask yourself what you are saying NO to when you say YES to someone’s request.  A good delay tactic is: “that deserves some thought” or “let me consult my diary and get back to you”. That way you give yourself the time to consider your answer and then decide whether that task is IMPORTANT to YOU.

Listen to your body – it’s trying to tell you things about what you need/don’t need in your life.  Mindfulness practice – there are great MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) courses run in Auckland.  Lemons in hot water before breakfast is a small but positive step in addition to reassessing our sugar and coffee intake, especially when we’re wired already.

YOu can read another set of thoughts from Jenny Peploe of Personal Concierge Company who gave a (very relevant!) door prize of two free hours of concierge time. She shares her thoughts on her blog here, about half way down the page.

Finally Jenny gave us some tips of her own:

  • Breathe!
  • Restorative practices are key, consider:

Qi gong, tai chi
Restorative yoga
Meditation, prayer
Walking in nature

  • Our rituals determine our lives. Get better quality rituals!


Cheryl Bowie is a Trustee of the Professionelle Foundation. She is also a self-employed “career contractor” who specialises in consulting in the fields of project management, business change and business process improvement.

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