42% Of Working Mothers Have Been Diagnosed With Anxiety/Depression, Study Shows
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Being a supermom is stressful! Constant levels of chronic stress that are managed incorrectly can lead to burnout. Pre-pandemic research revealed that burnout affected 14% of moms. Interestingly, after the pandemic, studies indicated that the percentage increased to 46%, with most mothers rating their stress level ranging from 8-10 on a 10-point scale. In this post-pandemic era, mothers are drowning from stress, and the only way to address it is to address mental health and mindset in moms.
Mental Health for Moms in the Workplace
Mental health disorders and stress commonly affect working-age Americans, making the effect on working mothers even more. A 2022 study by Harris Poll data commissioned by CVS, 42% of working mothers have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and 72% of them did not feel supported in the workplace.
These claims are further supported by an LinkedIn survey where 69% of U.S. women say the pandemic exposed an urgent need for change in the approach to flexible working, and 62% say they’ve either left – or would consider leaving – a job because their employer did not offer a feasible flexible work policy. These studies concluded that most workplaces have a negative effect on the mental health and mindset of working mothers.
What Causes Stress and Burnout in Moms
Ellie Borden, B.A., R.P., PCC states, “One of the main stressors for mothers, whether at work or home, is the feeling that they need to overstretch themselves to accomplish everything and anything, resulting in burnout and mental health concerns. Many moms don’t even make it on their own to-do lists!”
Dr. Elbina Avdagic and her colleagues at the Parenting Research Centre in Australia reported that only 50% of mothers take the time to practice self-care! Practicing self-compassion, which often involves overcoming the compulsion to never say “No,” is a precursor for good self-care. They hypothesize that mothers are less likely to engage in self-care activities than fathers as they may not have enough time.
Ways and things moms can use to reduce stress to help manage their daily lives:
1. Change Your Diet
Dr. Elizabeth Clark, a first-time mom (9 months postpartum), former postpartum nutritionist, and well as a psychoneurobiologist, specializes in stress hormone research as well as brain training and recommends two crucial dietary factors for reducing stress:
- Magnesium, a fundamental nutrient that’s commonly deficient in the general population, is required for adequate stress management. Researchers believe there’s a bidirectional relationship between stress and magnesium. In other words, the more stressed you are, the more magnesium deficient you are, and vice versa. Therefore, supplementing with high-quality forms of magnesium can help reduce and prevent stress-related symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, and irritability.
- One of the easiest ways to reduce stress on demand is a hot cup of tea. Drinking 1/2 a cup of green tea has been shown to reduce cortisol levels (the stress-inducing hormone) by 53%. If you are sensitive to caffeine, I have good news for you. Decaffeinated green tea has the same stress-reducing effect since it’s the active ingredients l-theanine and EGCG responsible for stress reduction.
2. Pick Your Battles
Dr. Jen Hardy, a psychologist who works with new parents, says that “Part of the solution to stress as a parent is accepting that you cannot do this all on your own. We need to parent in the community. I realize this is easier said than done. But still, it feels important to acknowledge that the problem didn’t start with you and that you alone cannot solve this problem.” She recommends the following to alleviate burnout in mothers:
- Accept that you will likely need to revisit your priorities and goals. You may realize that your pre-baby plans were less realistic than you hoped. I’m not saying you need to give up on your career and hobbies. Instead, it’s about creating realistic timelines and pulling in resources to help you meet them.
- Accept that the people helping you may not do things exactly as you would like. Done is better than perfect.
- If you need to pick one priority, let it be sleep. You can let the house get dirtier and let the emails collect in your inbox. Find rest where and when you can. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased risk for anxiety, depression, poor concentration, and accidents. It’s hard to be the kind of parent we know we can be when we are exhausted.
3. Ask For Help
Your partner should always be willing to lend an extra hand if you feel burnt out. You can also ask family members to help you care for the kids. At work, speak with your boss about how you can better manage your responsibilities and find out if there are better ways to complete your work tasks.
4. Manage Your Expectations
You should change your approach during times of great stress or hardship. Instead of thinking a week, month, or year ahead, try to take things day by day. You may need more time or resources to think too far ahead into the future, as it is more likely that your immediate concerns do not leave you with the ability to worry about anything else. If what you have right in front of you seems like enough on your plate already, adjusting your approach and giving yourself time to reflect can help you tremendously.
5. Practice Daily Mindfulness
Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and offers a chance to slow down, settle the mind and check in with yourself. Most people think mindfulness means sitting down to meditate for 10+ minutes every day, but most moms don’t have time for that!
Carolyn Testa, a mindfulness coach, recommends sprinkling mindfulness across your day. Practiving mindfulness can be done by writing your thoughts in a mindset journal or even during mundane tasks such as showering, driving or brushing your teeth.
This simple exercise of non-judgmental observation can be a useful tool to calm the mind when winding down for the day, dealing with a difficult coworker or even when reasoning with a toddler in meltdown mode.
6. Speak to a Professional
As mentioned earlier, burnout can precede depression, so it is vital to seek professional help. A therapist or life coach can help you with time management skills, including learning about the proper organization and prioritization and taking enough time to engage in some much-needed self-care. Your therapist can also assist you in strategizing how to negotiate with your partner or boss to help make sure that you are not pushing yourself past your limits and to reduce the stressors of your role as a mother and provider.
It Takes a Village
The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” is still true today. When feeling overwhelmed, remember it is okay to ask for help and that proper maintenance of mental health at home and at the workplace is essential to your performance in both settings.
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This article was produced by MotherhoodLifeBalance and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.