Women are generally more affected by work stress, both physically and emotionally. Here’s how, why and how you can make a change.
You may have noticed that the women around you are more affected by workplace stress than their male counterparts despite them doing a comparable amount of “work."
Why are women more affected by modern lifestyle stress, both physically and emotionally?
For Starters, Women Do More Unpaid Labor
In addition to our responsibilities as professionals, women tend to do 50 percent more unpaid labor than their male counterparts. This includes tasks such as grocery shopping, picking up the kids and volunteering in their community. Even though it looks like we are working the same amount, we have much more to cram into our day, and it’s weighing on our shoulders.
Even at the office, women do more of the tasks that are unaccounted for. Think of all those tasks that are “nobody’s job," such as organizing team lunches and buying birthday gifts for colleagues. These small things make the office a more pleasurable and humane environment, and it’s mostly women who make it happen. We worry more, make sure everyone around us is okay, and over time this can lead to health consequences if we don’t set boundaries.
We Must Live Up to Old and New Expectations
Women are seen as caretakers and regardless of all of our advancements in gender equality, the old societal expectations still hold us down. Our job responsibilities only added on to everything we had to do before; nothing was taken off our shoulders. We are expected to be model employees, wives, mothers, friends, and still hold it all together while looking glamorous and putting on a smile.
The stereotype of women not knowing how to say “no" when asked to do something exists for a reason. We often say “yes" because most of us were brought up to please, despite our schedules already being uber-full.
Discrimination is a Real Contributor to Stress
Women make 80.7 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and are less likely to ask for a raise or get a promotion. This is not only frustrating but often leads women to seek out multiple jobs, adding to their already full plates of workers and mothers, leaving no space for self-care and personal growth.
Over the Long-Term, Exposure to All These Stressors Takes a Toll on Our Bodies
It starts with small aches and pains, trouble sleeping, and some other signals that are unique to each woman. Remember, the body whispers before it screams. These signs are not to be ignored.
So what can we do to avoid it? We can invest in preventive healthcare before it’s too late. Stop thinking of the gym, massages, and yoga as a “nice to have" and think of it as a “must," in the same way you should think about your yearly physical and investing in your IRA or 401 as a “must."
Preventive Healthcare is as Important as Financial Planning
Investing in a healthy lifestyle will save you vast amounts of money years from now. Failing to invest in wellness and preventive care in your twenties and thirties will result in spending much more later on. Common chronic conditions such as diabetes, excess weight, and high blood pressure can easily be avoided by countering the stress with exercise, yoga, meditation, and most importantly, nutrition.
Luckily, our society is starting to embrace this collectively. In the past couple of years, thousands of new Health Coaches have appeared in social media due to increased demand. Their services might seem expensive, in the same way, that a $300 yearly preventive dental visit would. If you don’t invest in preventive care, you’ll end up paying thousands of dollars for all the problems that weren’t dealt with early on (back pain, high cholesterol, etc.)
So how can you embrace the change?
Many employers offer wellness plans that are not well marketed to employees. Do some digging and reach out to your HR, and you will likely be positively surprised! The market for corporate wellness in the US reached $17 billion in 2018 - chances are, your employer is offering some perk that you are not aware of.
If your employer doesn’t offer a corporate wellness plan, social media and referrals are your best friends. There are plenty of health and wellness coaches building their brands online and offering intro specials to their followers. It’s a very competitive and democratic market, where you get to vet the services yourself and make sure your wellness money has been well invested to yield a substantial return in the next decades.
Silvia is an energetic entrepreneur who channels her passion for social and environmental justice through her work. After working as a relationship manager for UBS in Zurich, Switzerland, Silvia moved to Cambridge, MA in 2016 and decided to dive head-first into the local startup world. She is currently the CEO and Founder of Conscioux, Inc, a Boston-based tech startup that helps companies implement effective corporate wellness plans focused around plant-based diets and sleep. Up until moving to Cambridge, Silvia was both a full-time professional and semi-professional athlete, competing in European Sailing championships, and regularly ranking within the top 10. Being passionate about world travel and connecting cultures, Silvia is fluent in five languages: English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Finnish.