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How to Break the cycle of Mental Exhaustion (especially in fast-paced Singapore) by Missy J

The other day, I was at a client's, and she apologised profusely for her house's mess. I reassured her that it didn't matter and that mine was just as messy, if not more, given that I have three children and two cats. She nodded and marvelled, "How do you do it?"

I don't, my friends. I don't ``do it".

At the end of every day, my body waves a white flag and wants to pass out, but it's my brain cradling itself in a corner and sucking on its thumb (signs of mental exhaustion!). My husband is beaten too, but the physical exhaustion gets him. I wish that were all I had to deal with because I find physical work easier to cope with. Mental fatigue, on the other hand, affects not just your body but possibly your mood for the entire week (month, if you're unlucky).

tired lady lying on ground

Research does suggest that women carry a higher mental burden than men. Despite all our strides, wom

en still take on the more significant share of caregiving responsibilities and household management. I hate numbers, so I pass the financial tasks to my husband. This takes a massive load off of me, but I'm still left with organising family vacations and activities, health appointments, weekly dinners, grocery shopping and birthday presents. These are just the things I can remember on cue! On top of this, I have work, professional development and my small business to attend to. So really, I don't "do it" as much as I "barely survive it".

My situation is far from unique. Every other female friend I have is in a similar condition. If they're single, they face just as much stress at the office and with their family. Women are generally made to work harder to prove their competence than men. At home, they're the ones who are far likelier to be interrogated about their personal lives and face societal pressures to get married and have kids, or worse, justify their choices to forgo these options.

Working woman feeling stressed

We have more worrying to do, and when we're done agonising over everything on our lists, we often don't have time for ourselves. Little wonder so many of us are burnt out. Plus, because our work isn't precisely apparent, we hardly receive acknowledgement for it. That honestly sucks. I'm not asking for a medal (although I wouldn't refuse one if anyone wants to award me one), but a simple expression of gratitude slightly goes a long way to easing that mental burden.

sitting by the window sill feeling lonely

But you know what? We don't have to sit around and wait for others to thank us. Why don't we pat ourselves on the backs for being the girl bosses we are? We often don't give ourselves enough credit for our numerous achievements. I'm always listening to my pals saying they wish they were accomplishing more even. They often lament about the tasks they have fallen short of. I find this unfortunate because it's plain to me the things they do achieve, whether it's their happy children, their remarkable career, their on-point makeup, or the charity they unfailingly donate to. Women are often great cheerleaders for our family and friends. We need to start cheering for ourselves because we deserve it!

A group of women playing with glitter

I'm not quite good at it yet, but I'd also really like it if women learned to set boundaries around our time and energy. We must know to say "no" to things that don't align with our priorities or goals. If you're a people pleaser like I am, you'll find it challenging to say "no" to that dinner at your cousin’s or to the assignment your colleague would like you to take off their hands but understand that it’s OK to do so. If something gives you so much anxiety you're losing sleep, it's not selfish to decline it.

We also need to be better at practising self-care through exercise, meditation, simply taking a break from our responsibilities or (hint hint) celebrating our authenticity by pampering ourselves with something extravagant like doing a boudoir photography session.

white furry blanket wrapped around woman

Putting others before ourselves is tempting because we've been taught to do it for generations. You can start small as I do and spend 10 minutes alone in the morning before everyone is up. Or stop counting calories for a night (or two!) and get that takeout so you don't have to worry about cooking dinner after work.

Going back to my client from the start, she did not need to apologise for the state of her house. She did so because there's an unwritten rule that we need to meet specific standards in our day-to-day lives. Well, let's stop apologising for not meeting these invisible expectations. And yes, we can start with being OK with whatever mess guests to our homes might encounter.

But why stop there? We shouldn't have to apologise for wanting someone else in the family to organise the Secret Santa next year or if we'd prefer not to attend every party our workmates throw. When we apologise for not wishing to take on a mental load, I feel like we're implicitly agreeing that we're the only ones who can do that job, and most of the time, this isn't the case. Delegating tasks is fine, and it's not a crime to be imperfect; let's not be sorry for either.

Remember the oxygen mask theory. Before you help others, you have to put on your mask. Before taking on responsibilities catering to everyone else, let's take time to care for ourselves first. Being around others is less taxing when our minds are not bogged and exhausted. So really, it's selfless to be selfish!


Missy J


Time to be unapologetic by choosing you first! You are your biggest cheerleader. Book yourself an empowering ``selfish" boudoir photography session today! Click here.

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