Emotional Labour - 2022 Edition!
Aren’t we all annoyed of going through the emotional roller coaster the last few years have been? We are constantly bombarded with information about daily covid cases in our country, or which new city has been invaded, and how little time we truly have to save our planet. And yet, we are expected to go on with our lives as usual. We are expected to attend classes, take interest in co-curricular activities, reach the office by 9 AM and be on top of all our deadlines.
How do we process all the emotions we are experiencing? Which emotions are we experiencing? Is it acceptable to feel those emotions, or are we feeling those emotions because that is what is expected of us?
I know, those are some heavy questions. But imagine this, you have an upcoming presentation, you are worried about the current geopolitical climate, and at the same time, you’re expected to greet the guests who have just arrived at your house. You smile and engage in small talk to momentarily hide your anxieties. You are emoting feelings you are expected to be experiencing (joy of meeting your relatives), so you try to push those anxieties away for a while. So are you expressing emotions that you are experiencing or portraying what is expected of you?
The last couple of years have tested our anxieties to a considerable extent. Yet we try to put on a brave face and try to go about our day. There is a great amount of emotional labour being used to help us get through the day. We usually read about emotional labour in the context of work and organisation, where we manage and regulate our emotions to fulfil the emotional requirement of the job. But aren’t we doing that in our day to day lives as well?
Left unchecked, emotional labour can lead to burnout, exhaustion, dissatisfaction, and become detached from our feelings. Some self-care activities to engage in to avoid burnout are - identifying your emotions and setting some time apart to reflect and fully experience those emotions, engaging in activities that help relieve anxiety and overwhelming emotions (for example going for a walk, meditating, journaling, etc.).
In the end, there is some reassurance in knowing that we are not going through this alone. There’s support available if we need it, from family, friends, and mental health professionals.