As we grow older, the responsibilities we have become bigger and would have greater impact to more people. Work becomes one of the most stressful aspects of life. In fact, studies found that the decade or two before a person’s golden years may among the toughest. Many women aged 45 to 64 juggle not only work and running a home but also caring for both children and aging parents. Add to that the physical and mental challenges of menopause and its changing hormones.
The pressure to leave a legacy and basically not screw up with their careers, families and identity drives soaring levels of workplace stress that can cause burn out.
Burnout affects people in completely different ways. For some, it could be the frazzled feeling a joy-sucking combination of emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and diminished interest in life’s pleasures.
Some people may just shrug off the feeling, thinking that they just need time to rest to overcome it. But the problem is they never allot time to rest. The workload becomes piled up that any chance they can relax is spent on working again instead. What’s worse is that over time, the emotional toll of burnout can lead to physical health problems such as an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors that increase the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes), lower immunity, and sleep problems. Burnout can cause additional emotional problems as well, including depression and anxiety.
“Middle-age women are more stressed than ever,” says LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, a psychologist in Sarasota, Fla. “The number of women seeking medication from their physicians for depression and anxiety is on the rise. In fact, suicide rates have risen in middle-age women.”
As a matter of fact, the Journal of Women’s Health has published a Swedish study that shows how burnout levels among middle-age women fluctuate over time as a result of changes in their work and life pressures. Participated in by 143 women, the study went on for nine years. It concluded that women have different patterns of burnout based on variations in work-related and emotional stress.
Medically speaking, the natural decline of estrogen levels because of menopause alone can cause sadness, irritability, lack of motivation, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, aggressiveness, and difficulty concentrating. This can also contribute to women’s feeling of burnout as they find it harder to juggle work when they don’t feel at their best during these years.
What is the best way of combatting burn out? Work it out!
Not only that middle-aged women would be more active, which is ideal for good health in their age group, but they will also more likely make new friends in which they can confide to and share the same experiences with.
Many studies have long proven the effectivity of combatting stress and burn out through exercising. Any form of exercise can act as stress reliever which can extremely change your feelings, especially at times when you feel burn out. Being active can boost the production of endorphins, which are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
Regular exercise can also increase your self-confidence, which can also help you get rid of feeling burn out. Working out can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.
Exercise can also improve your sleep, which can help you reenergize and rest well, eliminating the chances of feeling extra tired and unmotivated which can contribute to feeling burn out. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
Studies show that one of the best ways of preventing or fighting burnout is by working out, especially joining exercise groups where women can not only work out the stress but also meet other people who they can relate to and have fun with.
The fact that someone is on the same page you are, feeling the same and thinking the same is really comforting. Having some friends while working out can also act as an accountability measure for the both of you. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.
“Connecting with others in your class or at the gym will build a sense of social obligation — you’ll be less likely to skip your workout because you don’t want to disappoint others,” Wish says. “Plus, social connectedness is a good insulator against emotional stress and depression.”