IN a world that seems to have come so far in such a short span of time, our women are still suffering. Let’s face it, hard work is exactly that – hard work. Striving to make it in a competitive world, it can be difficult for women to find time to flourish. The lack of a work-play balance, as well as the isolating individualist culture that seems infused into the idea of “success” in the current climate seems to be leaving women alone, sequestered in their homes under a pile of “ToDo”’s and extreme this-or-that internet-borne ideals; recent labels like “THAT GIRL” and The Girlboss all spring to mind, each pedaling new and higher requirements than the last. In the thick of it, it may seem to women that they don’t have space to exist as themselves, and the pressure to keep it all Instagrammable and aesthetic seems to make it worse. The concept of balance and moderation is difficult to come by both online and in real life for women, and mental illness is skyrocketing as a result.
So how should women rebuild their connection to themselves?
A recent movement online seems, ironically, to be encouraging women to take time off of social media. The concept of the Dopamine Detox is not new, but its main reach has, until now, been towards phone-addicted young adults rather than working women. The concept is simple; since social media is designed to evoke such a high amount of serotonin in order to keep you scrolling, to take time off would allow your overstimulated, overtired dopamine receptors to recover. Men and women alike have reported feeling more mindful, grounded and connected to their surroundings since participating in the movement, and the trend is rapidly gaining traction online. Perhaps it’s something to look into.
The unattainable work-life balance
Working from home, although beautiful in its flexibility, seems to have encouraged workplaces to disregard what was previously considered polite work-home boundaries. Your phone is always in your hand; why not answer the work call? The danger there, as many surely know, is the slow and painful death of free time.
Nature and nurture
Mental illness can be genetic as well as environmental – it’s multi-faceted, and no one solution will work for everyone. Therefore, a rounded approach should be used to combat such a complex problem; seeking professional counseling as well as conscious life changes to improve the quality of your day-to-day life. No woman on earth is as straightforward and simple as we’d like ourselves to be, and it’s only right that we invest in ourselves the regard that we’d treat others with. Being “high maintenance” isn’t exactly a crime, right?
The death of the third place
With the emergence of suburbia and a general lack of the walkable communities that so many grew up with, the concept of a “Third place” –somewhere that isn’t home (the First place) or work (the Second place) where you can spend your time unwinding – has dwindled. Kids have plenty; playgrounds, malls, and peers’ houses come to mind, but adult playgrounds are, despairingly, not quite as popular.
The third place is one that builds community, fostering connection and optimism, usually a public setting that hosts frequent gatherings. Your gym, library, or local cafe could, essentially, function as a third place. It may work to help the arduous crusade of meeting new people within a hectic life, as well as finding a new hobby and a community.
The all-too-familiar pattern of hammering away for weeks on end for a seemingly fleeting weekend or vacation is not a particularly fulfilling one for most; the fuse does, eventually, have an end. Finding a healthy work-life balance and a routine that doesn’t cause major burnout is particularly challenging for women when they have more on their plate than work and sleep, as they usually do.
Erratic new year’s resolutions and sudden, shocking diets are usually thrown into the mix – they never last though, do they? The key to avoiding burnout, however, is consistency and to know oneself. Instead of committing to going to the gym every morning at 5AM, try a guided class twice a week – it’s likely to end up being more consistent – and who knows, maybe you’ll find your third place.
“Mental illness can be genetic as well as environmental – it’s multi-faceted, and no one solution will work for everyone.”