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The Mental Load & Professional Women


When it comes to the Mental Load women seem to carry the brunt of it in the household. Most of us put in a full days work then come home to the second shift that's often unseen. What exactly is the Mental Load?


It's name implies that it's the running to-do list in my head, when in actuality it's more than just thinking about the million and one things we have to do in a day. Let's break it down.


  1. Thinking about all the practical elements of household/work responsibilities

  2. Organizing playdates, shopping and planning work activities

  3. Anticipating everything, emotional and practical, that needs to get done

  4. Maintaining emotions of the office and family--calming down or worrying

  5. Following up to make sure it all got done


The Mental Load is about anticipating needs, identifying options, deciding among the options and then monitoring the results. It's a constant low level of stress. It's not only about all the chores, and to-do lists that have to get done, it's all the thinking, planning, deciding, and monitoring that goes into it. It's the unseen job that you keep a constantly tally of in your head.


Let's not forget the emotional component. Are you the regulator of emotions in your family? You do the majority of worrying or calming down. You pick up first on the emotional temperature of the room. You can take this emotional component to the work place as well. Do you find yourself worrying about that big project and who's doing what? Some research suggests that these are two different experiences, but for the purpose of our discussion, I'm going to lump it all into the Mental Load we carry around like a heavy backpack.


WHAT DOES IT LOOK IN YOUR LIFE?


It could look all kinds of ways for you but here are some examples....


1. Giving reminders to schedule bill payments or handle other essential tasks at home or work

2. Needing to offer praise or pats on the back for handling necessary chores around the house or work

3. Keeping track of parenting-related daily details, including after-school plans, permission slips, library book due dates, or vet appointments


WHEN THE MENTAL LOAD GOES UNCHECKED:


Be sure to monitor your Mental Load regularly. If it goes unchecked you can expect signs and symptoms related to:

  1. Not prioritizing health

  2. Trouble sleeping

  3. Anxiety

  4. Physical exhaustion

  5. Burnout

  6. Lack of motivation

What's the first thing to go when your Mental Load backpack gets too heavy? For most of us, it's our self-care. Intellectually, we know we can't pour from an empty cup but asking you to meal prep when you can barely keep your head above water seems laughable. What if you could do less and get relief but not feel behind?


We'll be chatting more about the remedy to a heavy Mental Load later this month. For now, know that it's possible to get relief but you need a few crucial components:


  1. Awareness

  2. Do Less to Get More

  3. Crucial Conversations

  4. Let Go

Evaluate your Mental Load. Comment below and tell me where is your Mental Load holding you back from optimal health?

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