By Suhana Keeranthodika

Why Women Are More Stressed Than Men During COVID-19 pandemic?

Does it seem like you can’t focus on anything at the moment? It’s not just you, most people are feeling the same, particularly women. The stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has damaged our properly working brain.

If we are taking the case of women who are working as well as women who take care of homes, both are over-stressed now. Even though they are dealing with different daily routines they face the same problem. They are heavily burdened. Women are taking care of the home, family, work, and all these duties are doubled now due to the COVID-19 scenario. There are no helps available which used to be there earlier for most working women and the number of family members at home all the time is also more.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that Indian women do almost six hours (or more) of unpaid care work every day. Indian men at the same time take part less than an hour on average of chores and other home responsibilities like child care old people care, etc.

This is not to say that women must not involve in care-giving work. In fact, many women love and prefer homemaking and care-giving activities like cooking, home improvement, taking care of children, other close dependents, and more. Still, the fact is that a woman asking plainly for rest or assistance with domestic chores is seen with criticism and faces emotional/physical abuse at the worst state. This becomes unusually distressing during particular stages of women’s lives like difficult menstruation, pre-menstrual stress days, pre-menopause/menopause, pregnancy, or soon after childbirth. A lack of domestic and emotional support can have long term harmful effects on their mental health.

Why women are stressed more than men during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Women choosing to work outside home in huge numbers is a relatively modern phenomenon and many cultural beliefs are yet to adjust with this shift. For many women, workplaces can be an immense positive boost for their self-respect, intellect, individuality, and financial self-sufficiency, but there continue some unalterable obstacles to advance along with difficult balancing acts. You already may be familiar with the mother’s guilt if you had divided your time for work or anything for yourself.

Work from Home Expectation Vs Reality During Covid-19 Lockdown

In the initial time of lockdown, everybody at home was keen to help in their little way. But when the situation prolonged rest of the people moved away from the chores and women stayed. It is because of the prevailing belief that home responsibilities totally belong to women and whatever men do is their helpfulness. Actually women at home will be happier if men considered the chores they do as their duty (it is, in fact!) instead of offering it as a help.

When the lockdown started people thought that it would be a pleasurable experience. There were people who desperately wanted a work from home job, now all of them want to go back to the office. Working from home needs proper planning and determination to be constant in that. Women started lockdown happily engaging in regular and extra activities, some got busy with work some tried new cooking experiments. The absence of maids, daycare centers put women into a double task, which eventually brought stress into them. To ensure everyone’s cheerfulness she kept herself into the service of everyone around.

Do you remember how men gave hype to the cooperation they gave during the initial times of lockdown? They posted everything on social media and let everyone know whatever little things they did. But eventually, they got back to their original habits. Those who had work went busy with that and those who didn’t become couch potatoes. They ordered food and beverages to the kitchen. They ignored how women managed meals, kids’, work from home responsibilities, and everything together.

Consequences of Lockdown Overburden in Women

Recently when I contacted a few women in my circle, they all had the same rantings. Among them few were working, they said they want to take a long leave until this Covid-19 situation is over. Some of them wanted to quit the job as they felt horribly stressed and are unable to manage their home and office together. And those who are homemakers had the complaint that they are not getting any me-times and are tired of the chores and people around all the time.

The condition is not different in my case either. I have been doing work from home past one year and more but never before I felt this kind of focus-less situation.

Men brought up in patriarchal families may not understand the critical condition of women even though we try to speak or express unless they go through the same state. It is a waste of time trying to make them realize certain feelings of women!

Don’t feel offended, men are also feeling depressed but sure not as common as women (maybe because the life of women is already kind of quarantined). Sushant Singh Rajput is just one example that got public attention. Work-related stress is disturbing men and women equally, but men can fix those issues by closing themselves totally from the rest of the family. Can women do that?

Causes of Mental Health Stress Among Women During COVID-19

  • Existing systems that force women to do all house chores and care duties.

  • Employers are loading employees with the task more than ever and are not staying within the time limit

  • Uncertainty of the economy and financial security forcing women to hold on to whatever job they have and also trying to do all jobs at home by themselves due to the fear of COVID.

  • Lack of routine. Kids even though started online classes are till feeling it like holidays at home. they don’t sleep early they don’t wake up early, unstable eating habits, etc

  • Lack of privacy and me-time

  • Unhealthy eating, absence of exercise and sunlight

  • Mood swings severing due to all the above situations

An Immediate Solution to Control Stress at Home During COVID 19

You might have noticed the causes mentioned above, some of them can be resolved immediately but some need a long term treatment like the patriarchal system. So now let’s see how we can survive this COVID situation without falling into stress or anxiety or depression.

  • Create a routine for children and associate it with everyone else at home. These days we give more attention and preference to children. Even elderly people at home agree on these terms. So it is easy to make and manage a routine that is centered around children. Coronavirus has brought schools home, online classes are going on. Still, at home children feel it like holidays. Create a sleeping time, make healthy food habits, playtime, screen time homework time, etc. This will give women at home some peace of mind. Enforcing a time table for everyone by saying that it is for the goof children can assure more calm into the home.

  • Make a time table for cooking, cleaning, and assign tasks for others also. Prepare meals that are easy, like a one-pot meal for lunch and dinner together. Let the breakfast be something instant for example cereals or easy sandwiches or anything that suits your family and that is easy to prepare. Cleaning the whole house everyday bu one person may not be practical. Either you ignore some or divide areas according to whose space it is. For example ask children to clean their room, make it a fun activity for them by giving them points. Older children or other adults at home who spent their time totally on social media should come home sometime. I have seen many of them who were brought up by mothers who unconditionally provide everything from a glass of water to even finding their clothes from the cupboard! They grow to be ungrateful and take mothers for granted forever.
  • Small gestures that bring huge positivity. You may ask your partner to make a cup of bed coffee or ask him to feed children, read children bedtime stories, etc. Ask him/her to do such small activities (in the beginning, later give more tasks gradually, this will help if the person were never into any kind of home activities before). Make that person know how much energy you get by that sort of a move.
  • Get some privacy and me-time every day. Most people who lived away from parental home towns moved in before or somehow during lockdowns. To an extent, it is a happy occasion. Elder people are happy being surrounded by grandchildren. Family members got quality time together. But everything has its own disadvantages as young women at home may be busy all the time preparing meals and taking care of everyone and everything else. Earlier homemakers used to get some time after kids went to school and husbands went to the office and working women went to the office or worked from home, for women that were also a kind of me-time. Now they lack all these. The primary resolution usually comes as communication. But this fails most of the time. When women communicate that they do not have their own free time, men or elders at home try to argue and suppress the need. So a possible resolution is by invisibly bringing a routine as I mentioned on the above points. And then watch a movie, bake, try gardening, do anything you like!

    basic life skills every woman-must-learn

  • Make some time and determine to be healthy. Take a stroll in your courtyard or at least spend some time in your balcony to get some sunlight. The brisk walk and sunlight have a more positive effect than you can imagine. A whole day will be pleasant and energized if you choose to walk a little in the morning. Try to include maximum nutrient-rich food during this pandemic it is very efficient in providing immunity. If you find it hard to get fresh vegetables to add in your meals, why don’t you try some trending microgreens or try to make a small kitchen garden?

  • Stay in touch with fellow women friends. When you talk to other women like you. You will know that you are not alone. Everybody is going through some kind of difficulty at the moment. This will give you the strength to survive and enlighten you on the need to bring a change.
  • Mood swings are a very serious mental health issue that should be taken care of. It may be hormonal but it is catalyzed by the happenings around you. I hope you don’t break your relationships due to mood swings caused by premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, etc.

  • Do not love your work more than you love yourself. On the COVID 19 context organizations may be facing adverse effects, so they may try to keep the existing clients and it affects employees with the workload. In the fear of losing job employees do whatever their firm asks for without considering health or time. So what you can do is be definite about your work timing and be consistent in that.

  • Get professional help ASAP. If you feel that you are unable to do anything and were sleepless for many days you can consult a psychologist. Taking therapy is no more stigma, it’s for your good. If you are not feeling physically well you will go to a physician right, this is also the same, this time your brain may be sick.
  • Hope for the best and do only what you can do, don’t try to be a perfectionist at home or at work!

Is There a Long Term Solution to Gender Inequality Inside Homes?

Everything can be fixed with a practice of kindness, compassion, and respect for each other. Most of the men contempt when we speak about gender inequality. Some women think that it is ok to be at home with the least importance and most responsibilities. But now more women have started to change this conception as they cannot take it anymore forward. Women ask men to share home chores without guilt, unlike earlier days when it was considered a sin to do so. Also, mothers who know well about the conflicting effect of patriarchy have started making their sons do the home chores just like their daughters do and asking them to be respectful to everyone regardless of gender. But the fact is that children learn by seeing than from advice.

It is difficult for a couple who is married for more than a decade, suddenly changing all the habits during a lockdown. But it will be easy for a newly married couple to do so comparatively. And it is easier for parents to nurture as young. Women know their potential only when they work, likewise, men may be in dark about their potential to take care of a home. Whatever, it is high time to know each other’s share of responsibilities, value each other, appreciate and understand each other equally.

How Ayoti’s flexible work from home opportunities can help you during the COVID 19 Pandemic?

During this time, when organizations are economizing by laying off employees and ceasing salary, Ayoti is offering opportunities for women to flourish in their careers. Employees will be able to take care of their personal responsibilities on time and can do the office work whenever time permits flexibly. Moreover, women will continue to have financial freedom! Check out new vacancies now, there may not be a good option better than this especially during the situation like COVID-19.
My experiences and opinion may be different from yours, I would like to hear yours in the comment box below.

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