Three Reasons Why Women Have More Stress and What They Can Do about It

  1. Women do more unpaid domestic work than men. It’s not that men don’t feel stress in terms of fulfilling responsibilities at home and work, but, Dr. Joyce explains, “the difference . . . is in the nature and scope of these responsibilities in the home environment.” For example, Wong notes, “The United Nations reported that women do nearly three times as much unpaid domestic work as men.”
  2. Women do more emotional labor at home and at work. Wong cites research from Nova Southeastern University showing that women managers are expected to do more “emotional labor,” such as showing calmness and empathy and attending to relationships with employees, even when they don’t feel it or prefer to manage in a more masculine, less relational style. My own research, published in my book New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together, found that if women managers do not invest time in emotional labor, they are judged harshly by both women and men in performance reviews and other forms of feedback. Because of socialized gender role expectations, emotional labor is expected of women and not of men in the workplace. Both domestic and emotional labor are exhausting.
  3. Women expect to be able to “do it all” and can feel guilty and even more stressed when they cannot.
  • Insomnia.
  • Family conflicts.
  • Guilt.
  • Challenges to heart health, which is affected by disturbed sleep, anxiety, and chronic stress and can lead to heart attacks and early death.
  • Embrace self-care. Yes, self-care takes time, but the payoff is huge and can be lifesaving. For example, find practices to help you sleep, such as relaxation and breathing exercises, meditation, and journaling. Exercise and eat a healthy diet, which will also help with sleep.
  • Know your stress triggers. Consider a few therapy sessions to help break some old habits and develop new ones.
  • Talk with your partner about more equitable sharing of housework and childcare.
  • Seek validation, an essential form of support. Spend time with other women, either at or outside of work, who can help you remember that you are not crazy, and you are not alone. Share best practices about stress management.

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Anne Litwin

Anne Litwin

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Author of ‘New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together', OD Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Workshop Trainer