As a partner, daughter and mother, carrying the mental load of the family is almost second nature. We’re so often the ones constantly thinking of that household to-do list, school homework project or all those things we need to pack for the weekend. The medical appointments, the shopping, the lifts to here, there and everywhere. And all of this on top of working, and caring for elderly parents. It’s just endless.
Yes, men are now helping out a lot more than in previous generations and careers are much more 50/50 than they used to be, but for some reason, women still seem to be the main ‘planners’ of the family and it is very hard to switch off from the role. That’s not good for our general wellbeing at all – it’s no surprise that cases of anxiety are on the rise. So how do we do stop our brains going into overdrive and our bodies burning out from tiredness?
You may be used to being the invisible planner, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Try asking your partner to be in charge of some of the organisational tasks and both download a shared calendar onto your phones – just like you use at work, but for family plans. That way you can both update it and check it daily to see all the families’ activities and appointments so everyone knows the schedule.
It sounds so formal, but how often do you actually sit down together and plan the week’s events? Divide up tasks so each of you know who’s in charge of what and it’s their responsibility to remember it and plan for it. Now’s the time to set reminders on your phone. The help will be a huge relief and instantly relax your mind. You can also use the meeting for discussions on finances.
Couples often get set into a routine of ‘owning’ a task – he empties the rubbish, I put clothes away. That’s great, but what if one of you is ill or away? Then the other one is lost with the chore and it all goes pear-shaped, like your husband trying to put your daughter’s hair in a ponytail for the first time. Ask each other to share your systems so you can swap if you need to. This completely alleviates the worry over ‘will he/she cope if I’m not there?’
Are you doing too much for your children? Perhaps they would like to help out more around the house for some pocket money and maybe the new responsibility will help them mature. Make it their job to get their bags ready in the morning or to tidy their rooms. If something doesn’t get done or is forgotten, they’ll learn a valuable life lesson, rather than you saving them each time.
If you’re single or perhaps your partner is unwell or away a lot, sharing the mental load may not be an option. However, it’s possible to keep on top of that constant to-do list without it overwhelming you. Be organised, get others to help where they can and grab me-time at every opportunity – it’s so important for relaxing your body and mind.
Adults aged 18-65 are supposed to get between seven to nine hours sleep a night to function properly. If you’re getting less than this, it’s time to change your routine. Sleep helps our bodies repair themselves and process the day’s information. If you don’t get enough, your immune system may suffer and it can bring on anxiety and depression. If you’re carrying the mental load alone, you need to keep your mind and body in optimum health, so ensure you get your eight hours a night.
RELATED: The happiness workout
We all know the benefits of exercise: increased energy levels, a stronger immune system and it boosts serotonin levels in the brain which improve your mood. Working out also relieves stress, helps us sleep better and improves our memory – essential for all those to-do lists!
Lumity is fantastic for raising making sure your body is operating at tip top performance, even if your diet or lifestyle isn’t absolutely optimal. The supplement contains Vitamin E, Selenium and Zinc to protect your body against oxidative stress and damage meaning it can be a secret weapon to feeling your absolute best on a truly cellular level. Vitamin C and Magnesium can help reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue and aid normal psychological functioning.
If you found this article interesting you might also like to read how Charlotte Reed used drawing to lift her out of her depression and the celebrities who have been open about their mental health issues too.