Dealing with dysphoria

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Before becoming a mental health counselor, I spent 30 years in the business world. I used to say that the future of work is fewer people working harder and harder. Today, I see the signs of that in two trends. I them call Wonder-mom Syndrome and Workplace Dysphoria - a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.

A Pew Research Center study (May 2013) suggests that in 40% of U.S. households, a woman is the primary provider. In 1980, it was about 20%. Some of these are successful career women who love their jobs but must constantly divide themselves between job and family. They are high-achievers; they expect themselves to be able to cope with anything. These "Wonder-moms" can experience feelings of guilt, inadequacy, sometimes leading to emotional lows or mood swings.

Other women, many of them single moms, are stuck in jobs that overwork and under-compensate them. They drag themselves to work because they have to put dinner on the table. The result is unfocused anger, depression, anxiety. Both groups have one reaction in common: "What's wrong with me?"

First, remind yourself that you can't control the economic forces we are all dealing with. You didn't create the problem. You aren't the problem. Then ask, "What do I do to take care of me?" You must give yourself some mental time off. Go out with your woman friends, blow off steam. Or find some alone time. If you can afford it, get a massage or spa treatment. You deserve it. Talk to someone about your work-related stresses — someone who can listen without judging you or trying to fix you.

Don't say, "I don't have time to do these things." Make the time. Your family will thank you.

Charles Hughes
Oak Park

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