Women, especially working moms, have reached breaking point during the pandemic. Despite workplace flexibility for more workers, COVID-19 saw more women struggle to balance home life and work life. According to a CNBC survey on women’s ambition and burnout, 65% of working women believe the pandemic made things worse for them. More than half cited feeling burned out at some point during the past year, while more women felt less ambitious towards their careers.
Compared to men, women have always experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety in day-to-day decision-making. Trying to ‘have it all’ by balancing career success, staying on top of housework, and providing care for children in the household — plus guilt from not doing tasks perfectly — causes higher levels of stress in women. So how can women achieve more without burning out? Here are some tips to consider:
Stop trying to please everyone
Many women feel pressured to be perfect because they want to be seen in a positive light. However, as we mentioned in our blog post entitled ‘How to Be Mentally Strong’, people that want to build mental resilience need to put their own opinions first. Don’t let toxic expectations from friends and family dictate how you live your life. For one, everybody has different values, which means that trying to please some may cause you to disappoint others. For another, nobody knows the exact circumstances of your life but you. Put your own opinion first and live your life according to your own standards and ambitions.
Overcome the procrastination trap
Most high-achieving women couple perfectionism with procrastination. Because you’re busy making sure everything is flawless, it’s hard to get out of the planning-and-worrying stage to actually get the job done. According to a SymptomFind post on fighting procrastination, being truly productive doesn’t mean working nonstop. People often procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed, so it’s important to schedule regular breaks for yourself. The longer you work during a set time period, the longer your break should be. Try to work on the toughest, least enjoyable assignments first within a set amount of time — no more, and no less — then take a short break before you jump into the simpler task on your list.
Find a strong support system
Successful women tend to be loners because they rarely gravitate towards people who truly see them, let alone understand and support them. Science tells us, however, that it really helps to have other brilliant women to cheer you on. Research from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology notes that women who befriend female peers find an alternative mechanism as a response to stress, and communicating with female friends can buffer stress across your lifespan. Having friends means there’s someone who confronts you when you’re doing something wrong, and stays with you when you feel like you can’t move forward anymore. Take some time to reach out to people you feel like you can rely on today.
Take time to recharge your batteries
The World Economic Forum’s report on invisible office housework reveals that women are working harder because they often take on the extra emotional labor to support the wellbeing, diversity, equity, and inclusion of their colleagues — even during the evenings, on weekends, and on vacation. Unfortunately, this “invisible” labor goes without formal recognition and is often taken for granted. The best thing you can do is to set boundaries and carve out time to recharge. Make self-care a regular priority. Otherwise, you’re going to implode and be unable to help anyone out at all.