In last year's issue of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association Public Newsletter, the article "Working Women: Take Care of Yourselves" by Rachel Milner, Psy.D., caught my attention as being particularly important for this time of year. As children go back to school, working moms (and stay-at-home-moms) are once again faced with not only the demanding daily responsibilities of their jobs and housework, but now children's class selections, teachers, specialized learning programs, various therapies, sports, clubs, high school or college applications and other social activities are once again begging for mom's finite time and attention.
According to the article, while the number of women in the workforce has increased from one in three in the 1950's to more than half of the current workforce in the US, "women continue to have primary responsibility for home and family matters, [and] many forget to take care of themselves and many run the risk of exhaustion, burnout or becoming ill". (Milner, 2011) In order to decrease the likelihood of these negative outcomes, Dr. Milner suggests taking the following steps:
- Learn to set limits - You cannot accomplish every- thing yourself. Know your limit and set it.
- Take breaks - It is important to take short beaks during the day. Get up and take a short walk, speak with a co-worker, or do some relaxation exercises at your desk.
- Say no - It may be difficult to say no for fear that you will be negatively evaluated. However, if you take on too much you will not be able to give sufficient attention to anything.
- Take days off - It is important to take time away from the office to rest and regain your energy.
- Give adequate attention to your life outside the office. - If you are having problems in your personal life, your work may suffer.
- Work reasonable hours - Everybody needs to come in early or stay late sometimes, but avoid this becoming a patten.
- Communicate - It is important to communicate with your supervisors and co-workers so that they know what your needs are and when you may need extra support on a project.
- Recognize signs of burnout - Know the symptoms of burning out, such as having a short attention span, getting annoyed easily, and feeling unmotivated. When you recognize that you are burning out, make some of the changes mentioned in this article.