Mental overload and self-demanding: the daily life of women

In recent weeks a post by an Australian blogger named Constance Hall has gone viral. At the end of January she published a text where she explained her frustration at always having her mind totally occupied with household chores: what to buy, who does it, what food is missing in the fridge, etc. According to an article in El País, in just a few days the post got more than 200,000 reactions, 100,000 shares and 31,000 comments, most of them from other women who narrated feeling the same way. “Looks like I’m not alone,” the blogger responded. And she’s not. Women (and mothers) often suffer from mental overload, coupled with intense self-demand for wanting to get to everything and not being able to. Ms. Neus García Guerra, a specialist in psychology and member of Top Doctors, explains how social pressure influences us and what the consequences of the perfect woman syndrome can have on our health.

Hall is not alone, and she admits to being exhausted. The reason? It’s because she has to bear the mental burden of taking care of all the family chores, as well as those at home. This causes mental exhaustion.

Socio-cultural pressure: having to demonstrate and “trying to achieve everything and not being able to”.

Mrs. García Guerra also explains that socio-cultural pressure, transmitted and promoted by the media and advertising, “educates” the population. And it is this advertising to which we are exposed every day that shows us as if we had to have an ideal, perfect life. And this advertising has serious consequences.

“This is very clear in the incorporation of women into the labor market without, at the same time, a balanced distribution of family burdens,” she explains, which has led to the appearance of physical and mental health problems specific to women, derived from these living and working conditions. Added to this is the fact that many women feel that they have to prove that they have more skills than their male colleagues in order to gain access to a particular position. “It still happens that the woman must demonstrate and, on the other hand, the man is assumed to be capable. This implies a higher level of demand,” adds Ms. García Guerra.

And so women face a problem, says Ms. Guerra, “motivated by the social expectation of their responsibilities. There is a ‘demand’ that they fulfill their obligations as mothers, housewives, without lowering their work performance”. Here appears a double burden that causes them to fall short, to feel that they do not meet expectations, which causes dissatisfaction, leading to stress and anxiety. Also the idea of “superwoman”; that is, the woman who is not only in charge of the home and taking care of the children, but who must also have a successful work life and also have time to take care of her image. The woman then enters into a state of irritability, finds herself and lives exhausted by the days of activity and excessive responsibilities without asking for help so as not to bother. Mrs. García Guerra explains that the perfect woman syndrome is more common than it seems and that this organization of life entails significant anxiety in all its manifestations (contractures, pains, choking, digestive disorders…), to which is added a constant feeling of guilt, with the sensation of not making it, of failing, accompanied by a sad mood, which is combined with tension and hyperactivity.

Read Now 👉  At what age should hydrocele in children be treated?

Daily dedication to the home, by sex

The article in El País shows the average daily dedication to the home and children in Spain. According to the latest data from the INE (based on the 2010 Time Use Survey), women spend much more time at home than men. Thus, in households consisting of a couple and children, women devote about 4 hours and 45 minutes, compared to 2 hours and 34 minutes for men. The situation does not change in childless couples, where the figures are practically identical.

Mental workload: a health risk factor

The mental burden that many women carry can be a health risk factor in a world that offers us more resources but twice as many demands. Hence, it is also necessary to take care of mental health. The same article in El País cites data from the Report of the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress (SEAS): 48.7% of women suffer from stress, compared to 31.5% of men.

It is important that there is an equitable distribution of household chores between the couple, to avoid that one “accommodates” to the situation that the other is the one who bears the mental burden of the household.

The fact that this burden is invisible makes it go unnoticed, but it is clear that, for one person, it is impossible to cover the working day, personal care, education, home, children or leisure. And here the “superwoman” comes into play again, with the feeling of guilt if you don’t achieve everything. But this feeling must be combated with something very simple: “the person must be aware that perfection does not exist, she is not a machine. We are imperfect people and that is what makes us unique, which is why, at many times, especially when the children are small, you will need help and you must be able to ask for it,” says Mrs. García Guerra.