One of the biggest problems most working adults face is finding enough time for both their careers and their families. Trying to maintain the right balance can be stressful in itself, particularly because American workers are spending more time on the job than those of past generations. Today’s workforce is spending 8 percent longer on the job than past generations and as much as 20 percent of the workforce puts in 49 or more hours per week on a regular basis. The stress that work-family conflict creates can have a negative impact on women’s health, but there are natural ways to combat this type of burnout.
What is Burnout Syndrome?
Spending so much time at work does have an effect on the psyche and it’s a condition that has been the subject of research for several generations. As far back as the 1970s, Herbert Freudenberger used the word “burnout” to describe adults who experienced the specific type of depression caused by overwork. While the condition is common, psychologists still haven’t found a concrete method for diagnosing it. Overall, burnout is defined by feelings of exhaustion, a loss of energy and motivation and an inability to effectively cope with workplace challenges.
Burnout is often difficult to diagnose, as in many cases it may be the culmination of other emotional or physical disorders. For example, since some of the symptoms are also symptoms of depression and anxiety, an individual with burnout may really be suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness. Alternatively, a physical illness may also create the stress and conditions associated with burnout.
How Does Work-Family Conflict Affect Women?
Looking at 27 studies, a 2015 research project found that work-related stress was closely related to cardiovascular disease. A newer study looked specifically at how work-family conflict affected cardiovascular health in women. The researchers used a standard scoring system for determining cardiovascular health to determine how their subjects’ concern for achieving a work/life balance affected their heart health. The scoring system looked at seven different factors, including diet, physical activity and blood pressure.
The study consisted of a sampling of 11,000 subjects between the ages of 35 and 74. It looked at subjects from Brazil’s six major states, who came from a broad range of career fields and educational backgrounds. While there were men included in the study, the number of female participants was a little higher. The participants in the study completed surveys with questions about how their work lives affected their personal lives and vice versa.
When the cardiovascular scoring and work/life questionnaires were reviewed, it was found that women experienced a greater level of work interference with their personal lives. Men reportedly had more time for recreation and family time than the women in the study. Men and women appeared equal in terms of how much their families and personal lives interfered with their work time.
Looking at the cardiovascular evaluations, the researchers found that women with more work interference in their personal lives also had lower scores relating to cardiovascular health. The researchers believe one explanation for the relationship between work and personal life conflict and poor heart health may have to do with a desire in women to fulfill traditional domestic gender roles in addition to pursuing careers outside the home.
Even with the increased participation of men in maintaining the household, some women may still be trying to shoulder this burden solely on their own shoulders. As a result, women are more stressed about their roles in and out of the home. The resulting spike in stress levels can cause the inflammation that contributes to cardiovascular health risks.
Natural Ways to Combat Stress and Burnout Syndrome
Take a Daily Supplement
Cutting edge high-quality supplements contain the amino acids 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and l-tryptophan. These compounds are essential in creating the hormone serotonin and, as such, can help to naturally boost mood without causing the adverse side effects caused by prescription antidepressants. Since burnout shares symptoms with depression and anxiety, this type of supplement can be useful in helping the body deal with stress and reduce symptoms of burnout.
Get Together With Friends
Burnout pushes people to seek solitude, which can only aggravate depressive and anxious feelings. While it may take some effort, seeking out your friends and spending more time with them can help reduce the stressful work/life feelings you’re experiencing. In addition to finding joy in your friends’ companionship, you’ll also be forcing yourself to create a better balance in your life.
Seek Out Help
While workplace burnout may cause you to want to spend as little time with your co-workers as possible, asking for their help may be just what you need. Sharing that you’re experiencing burnout and stress gives your co-workers or managers the opportunity to direct you to a support group, counseling service or some other type of professional help. Often, counseling is offered as a part of a benefits package, but employees may not be aware that it’s an option.
Take Time Off
One of the best ways you can overcome burnout and work-family conflict while also reconnecting with your family is to take a few days off. You might even benefit from taking a Friday off to create a long weekend without missing too much work. You can spend the time relaxing at home, or you can take your family on a small road trip. By the time you return to work, you’ll be feeling refreshed and better able to tackle any challenges that come your way.