Role Fatigue: Why Wearing All Those Hats is Making Your Head Spin

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By Judy Gaman

If you’re past forty, you’re probably the leading lady of your own home, while playing many supporting roles on the larger stage of life. You’re most likely the mother to children of various ages, daughter to parents who have new and unique needs, and friend to those you would never dream of turning your back on. Often these rolls are balanced around a myriad of tasks either in the home or at the workplace. At the end of the day, your head may be spinning and your brain is left feeling heavy or drained.

It would be easier if the roles were played one at a time, but instead we find ourselves flipping back and forth between what we need to accomplish, and in what capacity we need to be present. For example, one day after a busy day at the office, I came home and (without even thinking about it) signed a card to one of my children with my first name, rather than signing it ‘Love, Mom’. My brain didn’t have quite enough time to switch from boss mode to mom mode. 

Role fatigue is real, and it comes with a list of symptoms that include: headache, back pain, malaise, and even sexual dysfunction. The best way to manage the symptoms is to manage what’s causing them. Here’s a list of tips on how you can manage the hats you wear, and in turn reduce the fatigue.

Set Boundaries with Your Children (even if they’re grown)

Many of us were “yes moms” when our kids were young. The kind of mom that was always there to help at all hours, no matter what. The downside of that is when the children grow up they still haven’t figured out how to manage their issues without calling for help. Help with the big stuff, the life changing things, but encourage them to tackle the smaller stuff on their own. Even if they get it wrong, they will learn from the experience. Don’t rob them of the opportunity to grow.

Put Date Night on the Calendar and Make it Non-negotiable

When all the kids leave the nest there will be this moment of truth. Do you really know this person you’ve been living with? Don’t wait another day. Pick a night of the week and make it your night to reconnect. Trade off each week and allow the other person to plan the evening. Just be sure that this night is also about intimacy. It’s so easy to get distracted that weeks can go by without sex, but this guarantees that at the very least you’ll connect four times a month.

Schedule Your Parent Time

If you’re like many others your age, your parents may be aging, and with that aging process, facing health issues. These issues can be stressful in and of themselves, but when you tag on the emotion of watching a parent decline, it can become overwhelming. Pick a day of the week that you check on them, review their medications, discuss any concerns, and then write down the action plan for that week. This will also help you gauge when it’s time to bring in more help or move to an assisted living center.

Tighten Your Circle

In a world where social media has us calling everyone a friend, it’s easy to forget who your besties are. Pick three to five people for your inner circle and stay close with them. You can still have friends at lower levels of closeness, but by focusing on a smaller number you can reserve your energy for the more immediate needs of family and self.

Date Yourself

That’s right, you need to have time to yourself. Find a few hours each week that you take all the hats off your head, turn in your titles, and just be you spending time with you. Take in a good book, a bubble bath, a dip in the pool, or your favorite show – uninterrupted.

Not everything about middle age is bad. By finding ways to manage all the external pressures you’ll be able to find the simple joys that come at the most unexpected time. When you wear your hats, wear them proudly. But, never be afraid to take them off, let your hair down, and just be you. 

Judy Gaman is the CEO of Executive Medicine of Texas (www.emtexas.com) and author of multiple books. Her latest book, Love, Life, and Lucille (www.lovelifelucille.com) is about how Lucille Fleming, a centenarian (over 100), changed her life forever. Judy’s also an award-winning speaker who travels the country inspiring and engaging audiences of all sizes.

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