REDUCING STRESS IN WOMEN

VINOD CHANDRASHEKHAR DIXIT

Stress, in everyday terms, is a feeling that people have when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands. Studies shows that around 87% of Indian women claim feeling stressed most of the time, with an additional 82% asserting they had insufficient time to relax. It turns out that in general women cope with stress differently than men. Stress can be positive and motivate women to achieve notable goals. But stress can also be negative and destructive, taking its toll in many life areas. When stress becomes chronic or excessive, it becomes harder to adapt and cope. When women are stressed, they seek emotional support from family and friends. Stress is part of daily life, but skyrocketing stress can take a toll on physical and mental health. Women — many of whom are juggling a broad array of responsibili- ties — can be under substantial pressure. It is rightly said that “With more and more nuclear families, women of the house have to balance home and career.” Women are socialized to be the caretakers of others. The Nielsen sur- vey’s respondents blame the difficulty of juggling multiple roles at home and work. Career opportunities for women in “the New India” are rapidly expanding, but family expectations and social mores remain rooted in tradition.
Men and women share many of the same sources of
stress, such as money matters, job security, health, and relationship issues. Perhaps a little more unique to women are the many roles they take on. In today’s society, women’s roles often include family obligations, care giv- ing for children and/or elderly parent and work responsi- bilities as well as other roles. More women than men have both a career outside the home and continue to try to jug- gle traditional responsibilities after hours. Over 70% of married women with children under the age of 18 are employed outside the home. Many women themselves feel that they shoulder the lion’s share of responsibilities outside of paid work, even when they are working just as many hours as their male counterparts. Perhaps because of this, women are seen as generally more stressed than men.
Women find it harder to say “NO” to others’ requests and often feel guilty if they can’t please everyone. Women under significant stress may experience depression, mood swings or problems with decreased self-esteem. Anxiety, anger, irritability and increased hostility toward loved ones or casual contacts commonly occur. Sadness, hope- lessness and helplessness typically occur as the predomi- nant emotional symptoms if depression develops due to chronic, high-level stress. They often spend less time nur- turing their own emotional and physical needs, as that might be perceived as selfish. In addition, relationship alterations or the loss of loved ones can produce empty nest or other separation syndromes in their life. Women can manage stress by practicing healthy self-care strate- gies for coping with stress. They should examine their negative stress signs in each of these six life areas: physi- cal, emotional, mental, occupational, social, and spiritual.
Today, we can describe women as struggling to achieve the “male standard” at work, while trying to maintain the perfect wife and mother standards at home. A personal wellness plan with built-in periods of recovery and self- care can help women manage stress and empower them- selves to make healthy life changes.The only way to man- age stress is to challenge the negative thinking with posi- tive statements and realistic thinking.
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