What is the "mental load"?
Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by everything you have to remember and do? Like you are the PA for yourself and everyone else in your household?
Do you feel that it's somehow your job to know exactly what needs to be done and when, who needs to be where and when, what's coming up, what needs organising and what chores need doing?
This is the mental load. And research shows that it is the default for women to carry it.
The mental load encompasses the unseen labour undertaken by women, often revolving around household tasks and childcare responsibilities. It entails overseeing the management of the household and children, including the constant planning and awareness of everything that needs attention. This perpetual concern and obligation to ensure tasks are completed weighs heavily, regardless of whether chores are evenly divided with a partner. The mental load manifests as an ongoing mental checklist, where women bear the responsibility of knowing, organising, and overseeing tasks to ensure everything gets done.
Why the mental load is an issue in perimenopause
The mental load that women carry is an issue throughout life. But the pressures of carrying it can really come to a head in perimenopause.
As women hit perimenopause, usually starting around age 40, their natural urge to nurture and care starts to fade because of dropping oestrogen levels. This means we've got to rely more on our brains and logic to allow us to keep calm when we're juggling the demands of kids, helping elderly parents, and tackling household duties nobody else seems to notice.
So, if you're feeling like you're losing your cool more often around your loved ones, don't blame yourself—your biology is playing a part!
The problem is that all the mental stress women carry around can seriously mess with their bodies. To cope, our bodies crank up cortisol production. And that extra cortisol leads to things like gaining weight around the middle, feeling more anxious, and struggling with brain fog. Which leads to more stress, feeling less able to cope and it becomes a very vicious cycle. Meanwhile, we are often being blamed for our mood swings and not coping like we used to.
Why not just ask for help?
Many women often hear the question: "Why didn't you just ask for help?" But the real problem is that needing to ask is a sign of the mental load they carry. When a partner says this, they're basically saying it's up to the woman to figure out what needs doing and then tell them what to do. Even if a partner helps with tasks like washing, if they expect the woman to handle all the organising and directing of domestic life, they're not fully sharing the load.
Women want partners who actively share the mental workload, not just follow orders like employees!
Changing this dynamic isn't easy, and that's where some coaching can really make a difference!
How can therapeutic coaching help me with the mental load?
Through therapeutic coaching, we can explore how the mental load impacts you, find ways to lighten that load, and empower you to communicate your needs with your partner or grown up children. Many women encounter defensiveness from their partners when discussing the mental load, so having tools to navigate these conversations can be invaluable.
During coaching sessions, we'll delve into any issues you're facing, uncover the underlying reasons behind your actions, and give you space to pause and reflect. I'll assist you in understanding your needs and guide you on how to assertively express them.
Throughout our sessions, we'll assess all aspects of your life and envision the future you desire. We'll identify tasks overwhelming your plate and strategize ways to delegate or eliminate them. As your coach, I'll provide support as you initiate changes and help you craft the fulfilling life you aspire to lead.