One fall morning in 2020, Myka Harris hit a breaking point.
As a small business owner and single mother of a 5-year-old, she had spent the first six months of the pandemic devoting all of her time to childcare and work needs. From staying on top of her son’s schooling doing everything to support her business – a wellness center called Highbrow Hippie in Venice, Calif. – she found herself exhausted and empty.
“I remember one morning I burst into tears, I was lying on the floor and I cried,” said Harris, “because I felt so overwhelmed and so lonely.”
Like Harris, many Americans have taken on additional care responsibilities while balancing their jobs during the pandemic, adding stress in an unprecedented situation. A new Insider survey of around 1,000 Americans found that this extra attention made some of them, especially women, feel stressed and exhausted.
Women were more likely than men to report feeling at least somewhat exhausted during the pandemic: 68% of women versus 55% of men. The same goes for parents who have had to adjust to virtual school, care for a sick parent or take on additional childcare duties.
These additional responsibilities in times of crisis have affected the mental health of American workers and have led some to quit their jobs.
An analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the National Women’s Law Center found that 863,000 women aged 20 and over left the workforce in September, the second-largest drop during the pandemic after April 2020. By year-end, nearly 2.1 million fewer women were working than before the pandemic, according to the analysis.
Women gained 314,000 jobs in May. If the United States continues to add so many jobs for women per month, it would take around 13 months to reach pre-pandemic levels, the NWLC said.
the Census office found in August that working mothers were more likely to take on most child care and home schooling duties during school closures. In its Household Pulse Survey in mid-July, 32.1% of women aged 25 to 44 reported not working because of childcare needs, compared to 12.1% of men.
While caregiver burnout isn’t new, Paula Davis, founder of the Stress & Resilience Institute, told Insider there’s no doubt that remote working, extra care or home schooling has. contributed to a higher feeling of exhaustion among people “.
“You’re talking about someone who almost has to try and play two full-time roles at the same time, and it’s next to impossible to play both roles well,” Davis said. “So it’s going to be very, very exhausting for people.”
Insider spoke with Davis and five caregivers to learn more about how the added care responsibilities during the pandemic have contributed to feelings of burnout.