Mental load and its impact on our health
Published Mar 17, 2023 • By Claudia Lima
Mental load is difficult to identify, but is quite real. Anyone can be concerned, however, women seem to be more exposed than men.
Mental load can have negative effects on physical and mental health.
So what exactly is mental load? How does it affect our health? How can it be reduced?
Read our article to find out!
What is mental load?
Mental load is a psychological burden caused by the management of domestic and educational tasks, resulting in physical and, above all, psychological fatigue. It manifests itself through a feeling of overload and overwork, a feeling of being constantly under pressure and of not being able to cope.
The term mental load is therefore used to express the fact that one can be mentally loaded with a large number of responsibilities. This is often associated with domestic and parental duties, but it can also involve professional, social and other responsibilities.
Mental burden can be different for each person and depends on many factors, such as the number and the nature of the person's responsibilities, and the level of support they receive.
Anyone can suffer from mental strain. However, several studies show that due to a different view of everyday life, mental load is experienced differently by women and men.
Indeed, due to gender stereotypes, but also to current social norms, women are more subject to this burden, because they are often responsible for managing the household and taking care of children. There exists therefore a perception gap: men do not have the same way of managing time and daily tasks, some priorities are not the same, and the distribution of the tasks is often unequal.
The symptoms of mental strain due to mental load can include:
- Severe fatigue,
- Decreased concentration,
- Irritability or nervousness,
- Disturbed sleep,
- Eating disorders,
- Medication overuse.
And when mental load is linked to one's professional activity, one may start having the following problems at work:
- A drop in performance,
- A change in the time spent at work,
- Strained relations with colleagues,
How does mental load affect our health?
Mental load, because it affects our well-being, can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. In addition, it affects the person concerned, but also those around them.
People who suffer from significant mental load experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, digestive problems and a general slowing down of the immune system. There may also be sleep disorders, stress, anxiety, poor nutrition, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and depression.
In addition, several studies have demonstrated that women who are under pressure due to mental load are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
How can we reduce our mental load?
There are many ways to reduce your mental load and take care of your health. First, it is essential to recognize the problem and to ask for help.
Here are some tips:
Let go, and stop feeling guilty
Letting go is truly beneficial. It is about realizing that there is not always a solution to everything and that we must be willing to ask for help. Relaxation is part of the process, taking time for yourself, resting and doing things you enjoy. It is recommended to focus on the present and enjoy every moment and also to accept that not everything can be controlled.
Being able to share tasks can ease the burden of responsibilities and tasks that take time and energy to complete. To delegate tasks effectively, you need to define them well, choose the right person and not hesitate to ask for help.
Organize your priorities
To reduce your mental load, why not take time to think about what really is important and what is most urgent. It is not always possible to accomplish everything in one day. It is advisable not to overload your day, so that you don't feel guilty.
Learn to say "no"
There are many reasons why it may be necessary to say no. To gain respect, but also to set the limits and to preserve yourself. A "no" should be clear and firm. It is best to be honest and not to explain yourself every time you say "no".
Sharing responsibility and being able to count on others requires good communication. This can be done by talking openly about what is causing tension or concern, and also by seeking advice and support. This is an essential way to better understand the needs and expectations of other people.
Mental load can be reduced by taking time to plan and prioritize tasks. Other ways to relieve it and reduce stress would be to exercise, meditate and limit screen time.
In the long term, significant mental load can have considerable negative effects on our mental and physical health. It exhausts the mind and leads to physical problems. It is therefore important to find ways of relieving it.
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