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7 Ways to Deal with Emotional Labour Overload

The end of the school year usually brings mixed emotions. On one hand, we all need a rest from the routine and kids are on the brink of losing the plot, but on the other hand, having kids at home for 6 weeks or more can significantly increase the amount of emotional labour, that women especially can experience in all areas of life.




Emotional labour is a form of stress, it's an expectation to regulate one's or someone else's emotions. It's usually deeply entrenched in our social constructs, so it makes it quite difficult to identify, articulate and recognise as the source of fatigue, burnout, and general dissatisfaction.


It can be experienced:

  • At home - disciplining and mediating between children arguing, doing most of the household chores and family schedule, having to discuss these with a partner, listening and being supportive to family members

  • At work - trying to find a balance between being assertive but not aggressive, having to pay extra attention to detail to avoid credibility being in question, battling the imposter syndrome

  • In social scenarios - being questioned about one's diet, parenting style, worrying about appearance, and clothing choice being scrutinised


All this extra thinking, planning, considering, reacting and improvising is often seen as "women's work" and can lead to exhaustion and changes in mood, so we need plenty of coping strategies for emotional labour overload:


Exercise and gentle movement

Choose movement that makes you feel good during and after workout. Try to increase non exercise physical activity - walking, gardening, playing with kids.

Quality nutrition

Prioritise breakfast with satiating protein and fruit and veg with every meal. If you are training in the morning, make sure you eat at least a little bit of carb and protein to reduce the cortisol level your body is in after a night of fasting. For most people 12h window is most optimal.

Hydration

More water and less alcohol should do the trick. Try drinking a glass of water straight after waking up and before your morning coffee. Fill up a water bottle and put a reminder on in your calendar to refill at certain times.

Breathing Practice

Even 1 minute of 5 sec inhale and 6 sec exhale can downregulate your nervous system. Try a couple of minutes at different times of day not just when you are stressed. I do mine when driving, walking and at bedtime.

Meditation

Takes a little effort to get going but with practice it could be something you look forward to. Start small! Doing 3 min regularly is better than trying to commit to 20 min in week one.

Better quality sleep

Think of ways you could gain extra 30 min every night. Set the alarm clock for lights out and avoid phones in bed. You can see some other tips in this blog post https://www.malexanderpilates.com/post/does-sleep-need-a-better-pr

Celebrating wins and accomplishing goals

Try to take some time to reflect on what went really well, what you are proud off, what made you smile. You could journal every Friday and list 3 positive things that happened that week

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