Over or under? Work, stress and life

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in stress | 4 comments

July is almost over. And it’s been a whirlwind of work, illness, tragedy and emotions. So much so that my instinct is to find a cabin in the woods and hide out for the month of August. This post from a few years ago seems more relevant than ever.

Results of a global survey (conducted several years ago by the Boston Consulting Group) suggested that women are more overworked, overextended, overstressed and underserved than ever. In fact, time demands are the number one challenge that women face in their lives.

Key findings included:

  • Women are responsible for a large percentage of global income, owning 40% of all U.S. business and controlling over $12 trillion dollars in consumer spending (globally).
  • In the U.S., almost 71% of women in the workforce are mothers, and over half have children under the age of one. Yet, they do most of the work at home as well (88% – grocery shopping; 85% – meal preparation; 84% laundry and cleaning; and 77%, household administration).
  • 48% of women say that managing household finances is a major source of stress in their lives, while 81% are concerned about not having enough money for retirement.
  • 47% say that time demands represent the “big stress in their lives,” with 45% expressing that they don’t have enough time for themselves.

One of the most disturbing finding deals with women’s expectations of themselves. In fact 44% of those polled said that they rarely or never feel powerful. Hmmm, why is this?  Why is it that we feel powerless when we control such a significant portion of the global economy and virtually run our world, both inside and outside the home? And where is the true source of a woman’s power?

Survey results suggest that the source of happiness in women’s lives mostly relates to love, health, honesty and emotional well-being. From this, one might surmise that the source of women’s power lies within their connections, candor and honesty, as well as the opportunity to pursue these things freely. Indeed, when asked what they wanted most, respondents said:

  1. More love and connections, both intimate and with family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.
  2. Freedom to pursue the path which will allow them to become fulfilled, happy and satisfied.
  3. More balance in their lives.
  4. Enough money to remove financial pressure.

Silver gazeWe live in a world where time is a commodity and where the individual is always being pulled in a zillion directions. Self-image, especially as we age, can be tough, especially when societal messages abound that we are no longer “as beautiful as…”  In fact, in this survey, at least a quarter of women said that they rarely or never felt beautiful.

What gives? We are powerful, we are in control and regardless of age or shape, we, as women, have an inner beauty that when realized, reflects outward and resonates endlessly.

Life is stressful and it appears that as women, we are shouldering a burden of extreme proportions. Not only should we be asking what we are doing to create this paradigm but more importantly, what can we do to change it.

What do you think?


  1. 7-29-2013

    I believe a lot of the issue comes from our (women’s) discomfort with conflict, or even having someone be a little annoyed with us. Whether that comes from nature or nurture can be debated, but I can tell you from experience that becoming comfortable with making others uncomfortable is essential to holding your power. You have to be able to say “no” and be ok with the other person being mad or sad or actually stepping away from you.

    And it turns out that a lot of “mad” and “sad” behavior is actually people using what works to get you to do what they want you to do. When you stop responding to it, they first become louder (which is hard to deal with) and then stop bothering with using emotion to manipulate you–because it stops working for them. So life loses a lot of drama.

    I was terrible at this until my 30s, and then pretty lousy in my 40s and it’s only now that I just live my life the way I please. I am very kind, very generous… and I have very clear boundaries. I’m not mean when you reach them, but you will know when you reach them, and you will step back. Because there are clear and appropriate consequences. And if you don’t, I’ll step out of your reach. So it works for me either way.

    A side effect: people who are only in it to use me no longer hang out near me. Instead, I am surrounded by really amazing folks who do their fair share (or more) and totally dig my groove.

    Learning to be powerful is hard and uncomfortable. But worth it; on the far side, my life is much smoother, calmer, and more amazing.

    • 7-30-2013

      Bravo Mamie! This comment is inspiring!

  2. 7-29-2013

    It would help if people in positions of authority would be more forgiving of others’ inability to meet expectations – e.g. work requirements, number of patients to see, bills to generate, hours to stay on a shift, whatever – so we’d feel less pressure to “do it all” while we’re sick or caring for a loved one.

    Hope you’re doing OK and able to take it easy in August.

    • 7-30-2013

      I think it behooves us to take the lead and not rely on our managers to lower expectations.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *