Mental Overload. Experts coined this phrase to accurately describe the process in which women and men who multitask as the CEO of their household try to balance ridiculously busy lives.
Managing filled calendars, chauffeuring kids to piano lessons and meeting work deadlines is the emotional labor so many undergo to manage the feelings and emotions of everyone circling within their orbit—and all of this adds up to serious emotional and physical tolls. Minor (and major) health concerns start to pop up, leaving these same people scratching their heads and wondering, “Why me?”
And, you don’t have to have children to feel this burden.
One day while I was facing an slew of online work deadlines, making dinner, and fielding phone calls over, yet another family catastrophe, I was thrown into my own personal tailspin; all of this exacerbated by lack of sleep and not taking care of myself. And, as I stood there in the whirlwind of my reality, I just cried big heavy tears — feeling misunderstood and like I was being way too emotional over seemingly trivial things.
But it is those multiple trivial things, and truly thinking in the depths of our hearts that we can accomplish them all at once, that is the source of mental overload.
I am not alone in this!
Overburdened and stressed-out women (and men) like myself are not hard to find, according to articles and blogs nationwide. Look in the mirror, or talk to your best friend or neighbor, and you will discover another household taskmaster who is juggling work, volunteering, raising kids, and managing every detail that falls between morning and night.
This health scenario affects all people of all ages and lifestyles, experts say. But there are many things you can do to alleviate stress and find balance, including exercise, meditation and advocating for your own health.
The day I stood there in the kitchen sobbing over my lack of broccoli I needed for my stir-fry, I realized big changes needed to happen.
Serious Symptoms And Emotional Loads
Rosie Parrish, a naturopathic doctor at Boulder Natural Health in Boulder, states that she sees an increasing number of women suffering fatigue, weight gain and overall neglect of their health. “It’s because they are so taxed caretaking for others, and they don’t prioritize their own health,” she says. It’s these women who wind up with hypertension, prediabetes, obesity, hair loss, insomnia and low libido.
There are serious symptoms and conditions that can lead to even more concerning issues— anemia, heart failure, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disease, viral infections, digestive disorders and more.
Prioritizing self-care is truly key. I know that can be hard when you have so much going on, but incorporating self-care helps to offset the overload and helps you to come back to balance. Some of my favorites are meditations, mindfulness, exercise, breathing techniques, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, reading, gardening, and trying to get enough sleep.
The biggest problem is that most of us can never really get away. Everything is there demanding your attention and pulling you in 100 different ways. Men and women both suffer from this, but women are shown to carry more of the emotional load.
Why is this? Science doesn’t yet offer a clear answer, Parrish says, adding that there are some positive benefits to being a multitasker.
“Women are achievers, successful in their career and family, and they can mobilize others, including family members, to achieve.”
Carrying so much of that emotional burden, however, can lead to toxic chronic stress. This can make you vulnerable to anxiety and depression, worsen existing illnesses such as asthma, and chip away at the ability to handle stress at all.
Ask yourself these…Are you chewing your nails? Road raging? Snapping at everyone around you? Huffing and puffing when you didn’t get your way? These are warning signs that can lead to those bigger health problems. Once aware, we are more willing and able to break the cycle.
What can you do?
Shifting your priorities to find balance is key! Look at the big picture and ask yourself, “is it really that important that I get ALL the wash done today or can I spread it throughout the week so I have time to take a walk or go out to dinner with my friend.”
Talking with friends is a wonderful way to de-stress. So are date nights and apps with short meditative exercises that you can do anywhere.
Every successful CEO will delegate. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable with people and just ask for some help. Everything may not go exactly as you would like to see it go, but that is ok!
If you’re going to be the family CEO, then act like a CEO by delegating and putting systems into place that will ease your burden. Here are a few ideas to start now.
- Streamline Meals. Declare standard meals for certain nights of the weeks, such as Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday or Spaghetti Wednesday, and then delegate those meals to other capable members of the family.
- Embrace the Carpool. Find another over-stretched family CEO at your child’s practice (trust us, she won’t be hard to find) and chat with her about the idea of starting a carpool so you each have certain nights or weeks where this task is completely removed from your schedule.
- Get Kids Involved. Delineate clear tasks with a points system (for example: take out the garbage = 1 point, clean the toilets = 3 points, etc.) on written notecards. As each child completes a task, they place the card in a basket. Each card in the basket (or reaching a certain points mark) goes toward a reward.
- Take Advantage of Convenience. You may just be in the life stage where it makes sense to pay a little more for the pre-cut veggies or to take advantage of a cleaning service or dinner prep service. What is a take that takes up too much of your precious time? There’s probably a convenience item or serve that can make your life easier.
- Do Errands in One Swoop. Make a list of 10 or so errands you must do and knock them out in a single block of time. Pay all bills digitally at the same time. Pick up all cards and gifts for the next month or two in one trip. Make a single or twice monthly trip to the bank, pharmacy or post office. Try to schedule all doctor or dentist appointments at a convenient time on the same day.
- Make Extra Meals. Cook meals in big batches and freeze leftovers for the days when there’s no time or energy to get dinner on the table. Soups, casseroles, pasta dishes and cooked meat all freeze and thaw well.
- Get Out of Your Head. Make a list of everything that needs to get done in one place (a physical paper list or on your smartphone) in the order of priority. Just writing out the list can relieve stress that you’ll forget something and will give you a clear plan of what to tackle next.
- Unplug at Night. Every evening, enforce a no-electronics rule for you and anyone in your home where all devices must be closed down at a certain hour. This gives your minds time to unwind and greatly increases your odds of sleeping well.
- Treat Yourself. Each week, choose something that you’re doing only for yourself, whether it’s a yoga or fitness class, massage, self-improvement class, lunch or coffee with friends, or a trip to the quietest corner of your local library.
- Say No. You can’t do everything, and only you can make the decision about where, when and how to share your talents, time and energy. Say no the next request or project that doesn’t fit in or bring you joy, and do so unapologetically.
Saying No and delegating is going to feel tough at first and that is ok. Stepping out of your comfort zone creates movement and movement creates something different. And that something different may be what saves your sanity!
What is one take away that you got from this article today and how will you start to use it? Comment below and tell me!
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Author Credit: Julie Marshall
Art Credit: New Hope Network