Work-life balance is even more elusive this 2020. The pandemic has blurred the lines separating the different aspects of everyone’s lives. Aside from being a place of rest, houses have also become multi-purpose and adopted the roles of the gym, the office, or the daycare. Physical boundaries are no longer there to help people focus on one responsibility at a time, as many concerns crop up and deem themselves a priority.
Suppose the sanity of ordinary people is taking a dive due to the sudden collapse of structure and certainty; what more if you’re a single mom. They are solely accountable for juggling all the financial and emotional duties in running a household and keeping a day job at the same time. While they are keeping an eye on their children’s online classes, they are also looking for high-quality contract flooring services for the new building of their company. Their to-do lists for home and work are now jumbled up, with no end in sight.
Ensuring that everything smoothly goes day and night is hard work. It will be overwhelming, and feelings of guilt and anxiety will regularly surface. Am I doing enough for my family? Are my children learning a lot, given the new approach to education? Is my boss satisfied with the quality of output I’ve been doing? All these questions can drive anyone up a wall.
To avoid getting burned out, here are some healthy coping mechanisms that single moms can consider:
Acceptance is key
There’s a reason why acceptance is the last stage of grief as popularized by Swiss American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. It is only when people acknowledge the difficulties and unfairness of the situation can they move forward. The extent of the pandemic blindsided everyone, even the most prolific analysts and scientists. Refusing to accept that the world might not be the same anymore and normality can still happen hinders people from acting on things they can control.
Instead, single moms should consider practising radical acceptance. It is a mindfulness concept that emphasizes accepting the situation no matter how ridiculous rather than going against it. The energy spent in denial is better channelled towards more productive and impactful activities.
Focus on your breathing
When things become stressful, focusing on one’s breathing can help in grounding you to the present. That is because when people breathe deeply, a signal is sent to your body to calm down and relax by decreasing heart rate and blood pressure. There are many deep breathing practices, but one popular method is the 4-7-8 breathing. As the name suggests, a person takes a long and slow breath from the stomach for 4 seconds and then hold their breath while counting silently from 1 to 7. Lastly, they breathe out all the air for 8 seconds, repeating the exercise until they feel calm. Single moms can use this method whenever they feel swamped.
Find a community of like-minded people
Having a community to fall back to is better than coping alone. People can see that they are not the only people going through a rough patch and can offer support and resources. With a community, single moms — which comprises 90% of single parents in the United Kingdom alone — can schedule video calls to assuage loneliness, ask for advice, and empower each other through the difficulties. They can even have virtual wine and dine nights to unwind and focus on themselves.
Being a single mom is hard enough without a pandemic in the background as they are faced with constant pressure and responsibilities both at home and at work. Having healthy coping mechanisms can help them overcome their struggles and survive stress.