Self-care is important, and Parrish advises a host of options, such as mindful practices, breathing exercises, staying hydrated, being in nature daily, exercising often, taking daily Epsom salt baths and getting adequate sleep.
For Kingston, knitting, pottery and time with friends help her relax, refocus and de-stress, but her favorite decompression method is a dance class at a local calming yoga studio.
“There’s always a motivational theme in class,” she says. “Last week was creativity as it relates to dance and to life. I was able to move about freely, while being introspective and creative. I got mind, body and emotional health in just one class.”
Summer is a great time to dance, because it’s the hardest time of year, says Kingston, 42, who has the twins and a 14-year-old at home, and a husband who works 60-plus-hour weeks outside he house. In addition, her elderly and ill parents recently moved to town so she can help with their care.
“The problem is that I can never get away from work. The kids, the house, my paid job. If I go to the back porch so I don’t have to hear the kids yelling or look at the pile of laundry, then I see the gardening that needs to be done,” she says.
“My husband and I have no time to connect, and everyone wants my attention. I feel dumped on,” Kingston says. “And then my in-laws come to visit. Last summer, my mother-in-law looked under my kitchen table and explained to me how I should clean it.”
As soon as the in-laws left this summer, Kingston developed a horrible sinus infection and earache from the stress.
Why do women take on this role if it’s so stressful? “Perhaps it’s biological,” Kingston says.
Science doesn’t yet offer a clear answer, Parrish says, adding that there are some positive benefits to being a multitasker. “Women are achievers, successful in their career and family, and they can mobilize others, including family members, to achieve.”
And although some men do help with household chores, when it comes to emotional labor, women seem to carry most of the load. As clinical psychology doctorate student and writer
Christine Hutchison puts it, “Women, on average, have a PhD in emotional labor, and men are trying to pass third grade.”