Facing an online work deadline while making dinner for her visiting parents, 11-year-old twins and one emotional teenager, the final straw for Katherine Kingston was the moment her tired, overworked husband walked in the door and started complaining about his workload.
“I’d had it,” says Kingston, who also works part-time from home. “I walked out the door.”
Overburdened and stressed-out women like Kingston are not hard to find, according to articles and blogs nationwide. Look in the mirror, or talk to your best friend or neighbor, and you will discover another household taskmaster who is juggling work, volunteering, raising kids, and managing every detail that falls between morning and night.
Experts have a name for it: Mental overload, the process in which women who multitask as the CEO of the household try to balance ridiculously busy lives. Underlying the managing of digital calendars, chauffeuring kids to piano lessons and meeting work deadlines is the emotional labor women undergo to manage the feelings and emotions of everyone circling within their orbit—and all of this adds up to serious emotional and physical tolls.
This health scenario affects all women of all ages and lifestyles, experts say. But there are many things women can do to alleviate stress and find balance, including exercise, meditation and advocating for their own health.
The day she walked out the door, Kingston ended up at a friend’s house, where she found relief in a cup of tea and a compassionate ear. “It’s one thing I do that really helps.”
The importance of self-care
As a naturopathic doctor at Boulder Natural Health in Boulder, Colorado, Rosia Parrish sees an increasing number of women suffering fatigue, weight gain and overall neglect of their health, she says.
“It’s because they are so taxed caretaking for others, and they don’t prioritize their own health,” she says. It’s these women who wind up with hypertension, prediabetes, obesity, hair loss, insomnia and low libido.
These are serious symptoms and conditions that can get worse, in some cases leading to anemia, heart failure, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disease, viral infections, digestive disorders and more, Parrish says.