Why is self-care especially important for women?
As the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th approaches, I’m going to discuss the importance of self-care for women in this week’s blog entry!
In the last hundred or so years, women’s societal roles and expectations have radically shifted.
As we became legally recognized as persons In Canada (In October 1929!), passed milestones such as gaining the right to vote (1916-1940 for white women, 1964 for Indigenous women!), and participated in women’s liberation movements and activism, women have made incredible strides to work toward gender equity.
As we’ve made these cultural shifts to improve equality, gender roles have been challenged, but many gendered expectations, such as being a mother and wife, still remain ingrained in the cultural consciousness. When these multiple roles become expectations, women struggle with “having it all”. Rearing and caring for children, taking care of aging family members, maintaining a successful career, resisting sexual harassment and violence, and adhering to beauty and behavioural expectations make achieving a work-life balance more difficult than ever.
A large component of these expectations can be explained by a phenomenon that has become somewhat of a buzzword lately: Emotional Labour.
What is emotional labour?
Author Savannah Weiss sums it up beautifully,
“Emotional labor is the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, making people comfortable, or living up to social expectations. It’s called “emotional labor” because it ends up using – and often draining – our emotional resources.”
In the context of women and work, emotional labour refers to the often invisible, expected tasks that women perform in all aspects of life. This can range from the expectation that women must always be polite and friendly, to juggling multiple caring roles or a caring profession, to keeping life moving smoothly by maintaining family members’ schedules and chores. As a side note, I acknowledge that while relationship, family, and work dynamics differ greatly across the board, emotional labour is disproportionately performed by women due to gender stereotypes that tell us that women are more caring and nurturing than men.
As we are expected to drain our emotional resources regularly to accommodate the comfort and needs of others, self-care becomes incredibly important for women. Taking the time to care for ourselves can seem pretty radical in a world where we are always caring for others! This can even lead to feelings of guilt for putting our own needs first. The truth is that there is no shame in taking the time to care for ourselves, and our self-care MATTERS! In fact, in order to continue performing emotional labour, we must take the time to re-up our emotional resources when they become drained. It’s incredibly important to remember that we deserve to care for ourselves, treat ourselves, and love ourselves. Though emotional labour often comes with little to no compensation, we can take measures daily to ensure we are well-charged and well-cared for.
A few ideas for self-care this week:
1. As Spring approaches and the weather is warming up, take a stroll and visit one of our fabulous local parks. Bring a hot tea or coffee and soak in the nature, hop on the swings and go for a swing, or bring your favourite canine pal for a jaunt! My favourite spots around town for gorgeous ocean views and top-notch swingsets are Flinn Park and Fort Needham Park.
2. Take some time before bed to journal three good things that happened in your day, three things you love about yourself, and three things you’re looking forward to tomorrow.
3. Buy yourself a cupcake. Eat the entire cupcake. Do not for one second feel guilty about eating said cupcake. Indulging in pleasure is self-affirming, and you deserve it! ©