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Working Women Priorities: Is Mental Well Being a Chore or Self-Care?

Physical health threat and isolation with restrictions hampering mental health; COVID-19 is like a double-edged sword. Statistics from various sources have indicated that women are facing major burnouts and increased stress that negatively impact mental wellbeing. There is a juggle to balance household chores and professional life with the continuous blurring of balance. 

More than 41% of the working population cited issues with the delineation between personal and work life. Women are struggling furthermore as work from home is becoming the norm and there are no schedules or routines, leading to additional chores and responsibilities.

“I am meant to cater to everyone’s needs and also complete my work deadlines” – a traditional Indian woman.

This is the dialogue that plays in the head and defines the life of women in India. They are the prime carers and are mostly overloaded with work and societal pressure. They need to take care of the family’s physical needs, nutrition, and daily chores with the added need to now maintain a professional environment for everyone working at home. While other realities and needs become her schedule, her well-being is usually on the back burner or completely ignored. 

“If I take time out for myself, it's selfish. It will disrupt everything, and everyone will be unhappy” – a dutiful working mother.

This is what surrounds a working woman who is trying to not only balance work and chores but also support her child through their growth. Women believe that they need to be tending to the needs of their children always, and a little “me time” is a betrayal from her responsibilities of womanhood. 

“I am exhausted, I don’t know if I will make it. I should rather take a break or quit my job”- a burnt-out women employee.

This could become or has become the theme of working women’s life since the pandemic and its shifts. However, being aware, changing how we think, and working out our schedules can help us balance and prioritize our mental well-being.

 Knowing how to do and what to do for oneself can help cope better:

  • Firstly, believe and know that your mental wellbeing is a priority! It is essential and it will help prevent any unwarranted health issues, burnouts and aid in increasing or sustaining your productivity.
  • It is vital to believe and let go of the need to be perfect and have everything be perfect. We as women can rethink, be flexible and let certain things pass when it comes to household chores. For example, it’s okay when others are helping and aren’t doing it the way you do it. Accept the help and learn to not overburden yourself with doing it all by yourself. These little steps add to your future well being. This will help you against avoidable exhaustion.
  • Be assertive about segregation and delegation of certain duties among family members. This will help release the unwanted pressure of unsurmountable chores and disputes due to duties. For example, your kids or younger family members can set up the table or clear dishes, the older adults can contribute with cleaning the house or help with cooking.
  • Set time aside for yourself and make it a routine. Having a certain amount of time and break can help you recharge and refresh. Meditate, talk to your friends or scroll through your social media or watch your favourite show/movie.
  • Do something you enjoy/relish and de-stress through dancing or taking a nap or any other activity. This will help regulate your mood and give you a break from the daily schedule. Meditation and yoga have proven to help with de-stressing and promote better mental health. Research indicates that Yoga provides an overall holistic health improvement. It suspends the fluctuations of the mind and by acting consciously, we live better and suffer less.
  • Build a schedule and routine so you are mentally prepared and can be reminded of your self-care time/activities. Schedules can help to keep the essentials of the day well-planned; everyone is aware of what is scheduled for the day and hence least confusion or last-minute issues. Fixed schedules and duties can help deal with the chores with ease.
  • Try and set up a professional area and environment in a certain part of the house. Dress up as you would for work and try to create boundaries with others regarding the work hours and meeting schedules. All of these add to maintaining the work-life balance.
  • Finally, take time to meet your friends and socialize when you are allowed or try virtual parties.

In the end, we are the creators of our fate and managers of our health. Hence, women should be encouraged not only by other women but also by their families to promote their mental health and indulge in self-care without guilt or shame. You can avail services like chat support where one can simply vent out or even offer a mental health assessment that helps understand one's needs which redirects to the correct steps towards one’s self-care and mental wellbeing. Finally, being aware that when things go out of control, professional help can always help bring you back on your feet is an important memo! It needs to be added to all women’s to-do lists!