If you’re not familiar with the term “emotional load”, you will probably still recognise what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling of remembering about a thousand things at once: the doctor’s appointment that needs to be booked, that play date you were meant to reciprocate, the ingredients for dinner that need to be bought and the phone bill that still has to be paid.
In our culture, unfortunately it is women that present more with the fatigue and burnout of emotional load, but there are men experiencing it too. Usually if the male in a relationship is the main breadwinner, which is still often the norm in our society, then the female is the one carrying the emotional load.
Some women talk about how it prevents them sleeping properly, and how they feel caught up a repetitive rat race that no one is winning.
What is the problem
Part of the problem, it seems, is the lack of value and recognition that the emotional load (does not) receive. We are not living in a world where household chores and managing the house are recognised, even though these are things that contribute to the emotional and physical well being of family members.
A lot of us would have learned this stuff from our parents, growing up in more traditional homes compared to today, where the woman was at home and “in charge” of that domain.
So what can be done? Here are some handy, “real life” examples:
- Ask for help, or delegate – ask your partner, or involve children in chores, what works for your family routine?
- Check in with yourself: you need to feed the relatives that are arriving tonight, but you’ve been chasing your tail all day, so a takeaway over a home cooked meal is a better option
- Keep a shopping list on the fridge – that way family members are involved in noting it down when something runs out; my kids are particularly good at remembering ice cream and tomato sauce!
- Be honest about your own emotional load and why it exists – do you like feeling in control or maybe you’re a bit of a perfectionist? Maybe you need to practice letting go a bit more, or if that is difficult for you, seek some help.