How women can help each other overcome barriers to getting help

recovery young women and Rosecrance counselor chatting outsideWoman. Caretaker. Mother. Professional. Partner. Daughter. Employer. Employee. These are some of the roles women play on any given day. While each of these roles is valuable, the stress of wearing so many hats can add up.

This has led to women increasingly turning to substances like alcohol to cope. However, because of the pressures that come with filling so many functions, they face unique barriers to getting help. Busy schedules often built around family and work needs may make it hard to find connection points. In addition, women are more likely than men to feel they must live a perfect life to measure up to others.

This has led to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, and for some women that leads to the proliferation of the “wine mom” culture in social media. During the pandemic, this has led to increased alcohol sales, weight gain, as well as increased overdoses on drugs. While the “wine mom” culture has been on social media for some times and “playdates” for moms with kids were around wine, what is different now is the increased isolation and lack of connection which can increase substance use even more.

“In a crisis, we default to our need for comfort,” said Rosecrance Regional President Carlene Cardosi. “For women that may be trying to do things perfect and we put so much of their families and other people’s burdens on that our shoulder that fool ourselves into believing that we are OK. We fear if we fall apart the whole network will come crashing down. We think that we can step out on the front porch looking like everything is perfect, when in fact life is a mess right now.”

For women who may be struggling with increased demands on life, Cardosi recommends the following steps:

• Take the first step to admit times when you need help. Courage is like a muscle—the more you practice it, the stronger it becomes.
• Rethink priorities to include time for self-care. This will enable you to give your best effort to the most important things.
• Stick to the basics. Structure, nourishment, hydrating, rest are the basics and if you stay with the basics you don’t have to go back to them. The structure may look different now that two years ago, but it will still help with stress.
• Look at your values. How have they changed during the pandemic? What activities are no longer needed? What activities or people bring a smile to your heart when you think of them?
• Prioritize you. Intentionally make time to do things or be with people who comfort or invigorate you. It may be taking time to read, take a walk, meditate, work out, connect with a friend or do other activities that refresh your mind, body, and spirit.
• Connect with friends who can help carry your burden. Find ways to intentionally be with 2-3 trusted supporters with whom you can be “you.” Vulnerability in the tough times will develop strength to face challenges. In addition, find two or three people who are your “fun” people who can support the lighter side of your life.
• Respond to others who may be struggling with grace and empathy. We are all in this together and no one has it perfect.
• Don’t be afraid to seek help. There is no shame in reaching out to a health care professional, spiritual leader or a counselor or support group. Rosecrance’s caring counselors would love to walk with you on the journey.

“We need to break our habit of spending so much time comparing ourselves,” Cardosi said. “If we focus on becoming safe places for and with each other, we will find the supportive relationships we all need to make it through tough stretches in life.”

Rosecrance offers specialized treatment for women that allows women to take the first steps in recovery together with a supportive group of peers and staff. If you are interested in treatment for yourself or a loved one, please call 888.928.5278.