Why Women Are Burnt Out

Maven conducted ‘the largest ever study of working parents’ in 2020, and noted that ‘challenges for working parents spiked during the pandemic, laying bare unequal demands on working mothers’.

Particularly they found a 28% greater chance that working mothers will experience burnout than working fathers due to unequal demands of home and work.

McKinsey & Company (2020) stated working mothers have always worked a “double shift”—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labour. Then the pandemic removed the supports that made even this possible for women—including school and childcare. The burdens of childcare and home schooling then fell disproportionately to women.

Maven (2020) noted that women already accounted for the majority of jobs lost during the early days of the pandemic. And with one in four women considering downshifting their careers or leaving their jobs (McKinsey & Company, 2020), we are losing great talent from the workforce, and facing huge setbacks in progress on gender equity.

What is burnout?

Burnout is described by the World Health Organisation as encompassing emotional exhaustion, lack of empathy and reduced performance.

What’s the antidote?

Last month I attended a session by Dr Olivia Ong and Dr Natalie Flatt on burnout, through the Women’s Virtual Health Summit hosted by Women’s Agenda. Their advice on tackling burn out? Self-care.

‘Self-care refers to the activities and practices that we deliberately choose to engage in on a regular basis to maintain and enhance our health and wellbeing’ (Black Dog Institute).

Here were some of Dr Ong’s and Dr Flatt’s suggestions for self-care:

·       Practice self-compassion. It enables you to acknowledge you are suffering from burnout and this is the first step. Then be kind and forgive yourself. Remember we are all imperfect, we are not superheroes, and we need to accept ourselves as we are. So next time you find you’re being unkind to yourself, consider whether you would say that to your best friend? So why would you say that to yourself? What would you say to them instead? You can also change things by starting a conversation about the way you feel, others will typically open up too which creates validation, normalization and promotes problem solving.

·       Self-awareness. Recognize the warning signs in yourself and know when you are approaching burnout.

·       Create a self-care plan of 2-3 good habits to prevent burnout. Eg good sleep, mindfulness, self-compassion, exercising, spend time in nature, etc.

·       Think about what matters most to you right now. Find your why again, and live in alignment with your purpose.

·       Ask for help. Create a support network and connect with others.

Georgie Dent who hosted the session also gave this advice – when you feel that you are not doing anything well, just remember that these are not normal times and what you are doing is enough.

For further information on self-care, how to create a self-care plan, and useful templates see Black Dog Institute website.

Future of work

Reanna Browne (a Futurist who specialises in the future of work and workers) states Australian workers are now making different choices. We are increasingly looking to reclaim our time, as well as live in greater alignment with our values which have shifted towards prioritising our health.

If you are keen to explore your work options to create greater balance and alignment in your life, then please get in touch. We would love to support you!