Women, especially moms, are under a lot of pressure.
With demands at an all-time high, it’s a bigger mental load that is taking a toll.
“Women are often told to do it all and be it all and I, as a therapist, am here to say you don’t have to do it all.
Kelly Houseman is a therapist, podcast host and a mom. She admits the pressure to be perfect is very real and can be devastating.
“What we call the mental load is the invisible responsibility that women often have for making sure that life gets done. So it’s not the drop-off or the pickup but worrying about, ‘Am I going to be able to pick him up on time? Are there any days off coming up?’ So all of the mental load is the invisible pressure on women, as well as the physical, and many times that’s heavier than the physical burden,” she said.
That keeps us up at night.
“You’re always worrying about what’s next, what’s plan B, what could happen, how am I going to facilitate all of these things? It’s, again, the impossible never-ending list of things that we just seem to never be able to put down and cross off,” said Houseman.
It can cause everything from anxiety to depression, migraines, and forgetfulness.
“There’s no such thing as perfection. We cannot live up to that, because perfection does not really exist,” said Houseman.
She said you can start to tackle this issue by figuring out what you can delegate.
“I hear all the time in my practice, ‘Oh, but my husband doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way I would or I’m worried that he’s going to be able to take care of the baby the same way I would.’ And I often tell people it’s OK to let go of that control. It may not be done exactly the way you would but it will be OK,” said Houseman. “It might be different but it’s OK.”
Then learn to let go of some of the control.
“I think the biggest thing to combatting this is cutting ourselves a little bit of slack right now,” she said.
It’s okay to admit you’re overwhelmed and to do something, no matter how small, to take care of yourself.
“Working on stress management for yourself is vital. We often give so much throughout the day to our job, to our spouses and children, that we’re left depleted, and making sure you’re working on your own stress management. At the end of the day, find something, even if it’s 5 minutes to get you out of stress mode and decompress, it’s vital,” said Houseman.
Research from Michigan State University shows nearly 68% of women say they’re stressed out right now because of the mental load they’re carrying as opposed to 58% of men who were surveyed.