One thing to embrace, and one thing to let go of this holiday season
Did anyone else wake up with tightness in their chest, realizing what day it was? I actually woke up before my alarm (thank you Daylight Savings Time), and realized, we have just a little over 2 weeks until Thanksgiving! Why this holiday season creeps up on my every year, I have no idea. And have you noticed that this year, the retailers are starting even earlier with their promotions in anticipation of greater shipping delays than normal. Pre-Black Friday sales have already started and I feel behind. Family members are asking me for the kids' wish lists, and I'm feeling the pressure. Not to mention I've got a business to run, and clients to attend to that deserve my precious time and attention.
Anyone else feel me?
For women, this feeling of overwhelm is so much more prevalent during the holidays, because we are known to naturally take on more. Buying the presents, decorating the house, getting our houses ready for guests, searching for the perfect Santa to visit, organizing the parties (hallelujah that these are back in force this year!), baking the cookies and treats, getting dressed for holiday parties and family gatherings, and on and on.
New Study Reports Increased Levels of Burnout in Women
This year, women are facing even more pressure on top of an already stressful holiday season. You likely already know, and have experienced, how demanding the pandemic has been on working women. Last year, women left the workforce in droves - at 4 times the rate of men. We are now seeing encouraging reports that women are going back into the workforce or entering the world of entrepreneurship. While this is positive news, reports of women in the workforce are still showing a growing problem: burnout.
A new report found that 42% of women "often or almost always" experience symptoms of burnout—up from 32% just a year ago.*
Maybe you have experienced (or are experiencing) burnout yourself. Or feel like you're going to need something much stronger than Wonder Woman's cape to get you though.
On top of holiday demands, now more than ever women stepping up to be the emotional support for everyone (family, friends, co-workers, employees), navigating the new and complicated rules of working remote or at home or a mix of both, being the expert on the vaccine, perhaps doing double duty as a working mom and juggling remote learning for your kids, or caring for older family members.
Oh yea, and then there's needing to look like a boss on top of it for all the in-real-life events that are now popping up on all our calendars: work trips, holiday parties, personal trips, social gatherings, weddings. Our social lives are back in full force. At least last Christmas, we didn't have to deal with this added level of stress!
Isn't all of this exhausting? Many days, I'm exhausted, too. And the more I think I can do it all, the less effective I can be.
The reality is, we lose our power when we try to do it all on our own.
So why it is so hard for us to ask for what we need instead of always giving, giving, giving?
The Curse of a Farm Girl
As someone who grew up on a farm in Midwest Iowa, I believed that hard work and exhaustion were the pathway to success. Work harder, get up earlier, never sleep in, leave it all out there, go it alone. Those who rest are lazy and those who ask for help are weak. I mean, the badge of a good mother is exhaustion, is it not?
It has taken me many years to unwind this programming from my life. When I became a mom and was also working full-time, I actually believed I could do it all. And I tried to the point of exhaustion and losing myself. I thought I was keeping all the balls in the air - but in reality, all the balls were crashing down on me one by one: my relationship with my husband, my effectiveness as a mother, my engagement as an employee, and my health were all failing.
I really believed that doing it all was a sign of strength, but I realized that doing it all was a sign of weakness.
Learning to ask for help
While the programming is still very strong for me, I have learned to ask for help and seek out experts instead of struggling to do it all alone. I do it for my sanity, for my relationships, and for my health. About 7 years ago after my son was born, I made my first big move in terms of asking for help: I hired help with house-cleaning 2 times per month. It was a true life-changer for me - even though I felt really guilty taking this step, and less of a mom for doing it. What it gave to me was extra time on the weekends with my kids and my husband, who travels during the week. It gave me rest and a chance to re-energize for the upcoming work week.
During the pandemic, I discovered the joy of grocery delivery and realized what a time saver that was in my weekend! And now when someone asks to help watch the kids for a date night or pick them up from school, I willingly say "Yes," instead of trying to be Wonder mom who is a martyr.
Once I started my own business, I respected my boundaries as a working mom and asked for more help around the house - even though my husband already does a large share of the work. I asked for more, and I delegated more not only to my husband, but my kids, who are capable of helping out in a greater capacity.
These small steps of bravery have opened up a whole new world for me. One where I am not living in complete exhaustion and resentment and martyrdom, to one where I actually feel rested, have time to do things that I want to do, and am able to sleep better at night. (Something I have struggled with in the past)
So I wonder: In a time when women are more burned out than ever before, why don't we ask for help more knowing this is the outcome we can all experience? Why do we default to always being the givers, instead of the receivers?
Real women delegate
As women, we aren't totally opposed to delegating. We are accustomed to hiring out help with certain parts of our life, such as childcare, house-cleaning, financial matters, tax preparation, grocery delivery, cooking meals, errands, and so on. These have become more commonplace in recent years. Even though we could put the time and effort into becoming experts in any one of these realms, we decide someone else can handle it with much less effort.
Ladies, I want to blow you mind with another concept: Delegating your style is no different. It's something that consumes a huge amount of time and mental energy, does it not? I can bet that you've been through this panicked "I have nothing to wear!" cycle (see image below) a time or two in your life? (Ok, every time you need to get dressed!!)
Don't try to tell me it isn't true! I have had women tell me they stress for months in advance of a big event or gathering they need to get dressed for. And instead of focusing their energy and time on other aspects of these events, they feel anxious about where to shop, worry if they will find the perfect outfit, and stress over looking their absolute best.
Helping women take this unnecessary stress out of their lives is why I started my personal styling business. For one, I have a passion and natural talent for styling that I want to share with other women. And two, I understand the connection between what you wear and how you feel - and the resulting impact feeling good in what you wear that makes on your life and those around you. I want every woman to experience what it is like to feel amazing when they get dressed, but with much less effort than they are currently putting into it now.
This holiday season, prioritize being the receiver
Yes, I said it! And it's not selfish to want to be a receiver just as much as you want to be the giver. Why can't it be "and" instead of "either/or?" All too often we forget to be the receiver, feeling like it's all up to us to figure things out and do all the things. But what I now know from personal experience is that receiving is equally as important as the giving. After all, you deserve to receive just as much as your spouse or partner, your kids, your co-workers or employees, your friends and family. This is one big way we can start to eat away at this statistic of increasing burnout among women. Can we collectively as working women and working moms decide to stop wearing burnout as a badge of honor? And embrace that our true power resides in receiving, and asking, for help.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can delegate your style to me, schedule a free style consult at a time that works for you. It's a 30-minute zoom call where we can talk about your style challenges and where you most need help. I am currently booking clients for one-time styling needs when they need to look and feel their most confident self at a work or social event or meeting, styling for photos shoots, as well as full Style Transformations (aka, a closet overhaul) where we weed out what no longer serves you and re-build your closet with intention.
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*Source: Women in the Workplace Report 2021