How women are managing stress amid the pandemic

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — “Good morning, just got up for the day. It’s just after 5:30 a.m.,” says Holly Oakes, who has been working from home since March.

Like many others, for the past seven months, she has been balancing her demanding full-time job in Portland, Oregon, with the brunt of child care, helping her two kids with their remote learning.

“Mom? Can you make me lunch?” asks her daughter, as captured on a video diary.

“I usually get an hour or so of uninterrupted work time,” says Oakes, as her son plays the trombone in the background. “There is also the fun fact that my son is in band and they have to do it virtually.”

“Good morning, it’s 7:30 a.m. We are getting a really late start this morning,” says Arika Beachy, in her video diary from across the country. She’s working from home out of her one-bedroom New York City apartment, with her son, Teddy, doing virtual school just feet away.

“My son’s headphones are not working right now, so I’m spending my day working while hearing the school in the background,” she says.

Beachy and Oakes are like many working women across the country, trying to navigate this new normal, and it’s taking its toll.

“I don’t know how to sustain this,” says Oakes.

New research had found at least 1 in 4 women are considering downsizing their careers or leaving the workforce due to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don’t know when this is going to end and that’s incredibly stressful,” Helene Lerner, a career coach and founder of WomenWorking.com. “Not only that, we’re doing it all and we’re running on empty.”

She shares tools to reduce everyday stress with her Facebook community, where she has more than 18 million followers.

“Often, we help everyone else, but we don’t help ourselves,” she says. “And when you ask for help, you’re coming from a position of strength, not a position of weakness.”

Helene recommends setting realistic boundaries at the office and at home, taking a pause between activities and exercising the power of “no.”

“If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re not really helping our families because what happens when a woman gets sick, is that the whole family suffers,” says Lerner.

She says, prioritize time for self-care. For Beachy and Oakes, that’s enjoying time outdoors with family and, at the end of the day, try to find some peace in letting it be.

“It ain’t gonna be perfect, but you know what, your best is good enough,” says Lerner.

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