T* struggles through her day as a mother of four, including a child with special needs, wife to an entrepreneurial husband who thrives on ‘feast or famine,’ sits on the requisite boards, and in between shuttling kids, having one child periodically at home due to recurring illness, attempting to maintain the home, get a workout in, and fulfill her obligations, she is exhausted and yet consistently wakes up in the middle of the night.
T* holds a masters degree from a prestigious school and contemplates going back to school or starting a business. The challenge is that she is so tired that she can’t think straight. She is frustrated with herself because, as a stay-at-home mom, she feels that she shouldn’t be feeling this way compared to other women who have the same obligations and hold down a career.
T* is not alone. New studies illustrate that stress is on the rise, especially for women. The 2015 APA stress study illustrated a rise in extreme stress, and gender based stress (higher for women), than years prior. Furthermore, stress was highest for Generation X and Millennials than their counterparts.
Burnout is also on the rise. A study by McKinsey found that although women hold 53% of entry-level jobs at the corporate level, the number falls to 37% at the middle-management level and then 36% for vice presidents and those holding senior management positions. In the C-Suite, specifically at the CEO level, only 3% of those spots are filled by women.
The question is this – why are we so burned out?
Although a plethora of positioning has been taken on this topic with suggestions ranging from increased demands, to an inundation of information, the reality is that this is complex topic and while we try to sort out the cause, those with burnout must suffer the effects.
Hormone and sexuality expert, Camille Lawson, an American residing in Toronto, Canada, lists the potential signs of burnout as:
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
- Chronic exhaustion
- Waking up in the middle of the night
- Skin issues
- Blood sugar regulation challenges
- Mental fog
- Lack of overall drive
Lawson also says that burnout is not a gender specific issue and in fact, more and more men, are beginning to dialogue on topics like adrenal fatigue.
Suggestions to combat burnout range from the simple:
- Increase Omega 3 and 6 consumption
- Take more Vitamin C
To the slightly more complex:
- Get more sleep
- Make lifestyle changes
Either way, Lawson counsels that it is imperative to find a doctor who specializes in integrative medicine, and who is trained to look for the signs of adrenal fatigue and burnout. Left untreated these can amount to serious health concerns.
On a personal note, having gone through adrenal burnout, and making the requisite lifestyle changes, especially learning to say the word ‘no,’ I have learned to live with greater balance to counteract the burnout. Making these changes isn’t easy and can involve career changes, location changes, tough financial decisions, and even absolving some people from our lives. Many people are unwilling to take on the challenging issues in their lives that are causing the burnout however for those that are – it is liberating.
A couple that I have worked with were sick of the rat race and feeling the effects of burnout. They were both highly educated, had six figure salaries, and a child. They started a side business and for two years were slightly out of balance. On the other side of that came freedom where they quit their jobs, moved to a small ski town, built their dream home, and ran their online business in between runs on the slopes. As an expert in work-life balance, I am not saying that making the changes is easy however it is worthwhile.
I would love to continue the dialogue around burnout for women, and for men. Click here to listen to my interview with Camille Lawson and look for my Facebook Live – www.facebook.com/susanslylive where I discuss burnout. If you have been feeling burned out, or have successfully navigated burnout, I would love to read your comments in our conversation box below.
is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist. Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives. She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.