Women today have so many things to stress about. (Yes, men do as well, but we are going to focus here just on women.) They are supposed to be able to do it all – get married, start a career, raise the kids, stay skinny, and on and on.
While there are starting to be promising signs of change, from #MeToo to more and more women realizing their true value is not just the exterior facade, the media today, particularly social media, gives women so many messages about how they should act and who they should be. Women tend to internalize this, but we can’t all be everything, and it’s impossible to keep it all together all the time.
One area where women feel a lot of stress is with their finances. Do they have enough? Are they spending too much? Will they find themselves divorced (or widowed) one day and suddenly realize the lack of control and transparency with their money makes it so much harder to learn during a crisis? Will they end up having to rely on their kids when they are older and didn’t save enough for retirement? Or what if they feel like they never really can retire? And for women who gave up their income earning ability to have their primary job be running the household and devoting themselves to their families, ‘retirement’ may come very early, via a divorce settlement in their 40’s or 50’s.
These are real concerns and the one area women can completely control is the cash flow needed to fund their life and lifestyle. Enter the dreaded word: Budget. Just like most diets fail, most budgets fail, too. Why? Both diets and budgets can set you up for unrealistic expectations and a deeper sense of failure. While the temporary euphoria of finally doing something about your weight or your finances is an adrenaline boost, this is typically short lived because diets and budgets come with a sense of restriction and confinement if not set up realistically. ‘Falling off the wagon’ with a failed, or many failed, attempts at change leads to self-loathing, hopelessness, resentment that ‘others can do it, why can’t I’? Approaching diets and budgets with an all-or-nothing philosophy keeps women in a vicious circle of “If I can’t hit my budget markers this month then forget about the whole thing – I’m buying that really expensive dress.” Here are suggestions to tackle the stress in one area of our lives and try to create some calm.
We all want a calm and stress-free life and while we can’t always avoid stressors, we can learn to manage some of them. Your finances don’t have to become an overwhelming stress in your life. By engaging in conversations with your friends and family, finding ways to relieve stress and talking to a professional, you should be able to check this area of stress off in your life.
And then we can discuss that “need” to be skinny.