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Stress Management for Women

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Stress Stress Management Juggle Work

The old fashioned view of a stressed out person was of a middle aged male business executive who attended too many long lunches, too many meetings and spent long hours in the office. Today, we recognise that stressors can come in many different forms; the work place is just one source. Stress seems to come from dissatisfaction or fear and those feelings can centre on any aspect of life, affecting women just as much as men.

Women now have to juggle far more than their grandmothers. Two-job families are almost the norm and children’s activities have expanded, giving most parents a headache just planning lifts to and from various clubs, sports and parties. With the recession biting hard, financial pressures have also increased, and fear about not being able to pay the mortgage or rent, pay the bills, afford food for the family can weigh heavily.

Does Housework Really Get Shared?

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the age-old arguments about sharing household responsibilities have not yet been solved. Although more families operate a fairer system of sharing household chores and tasks when both parents work, women can still find themselves with three full time jobs – child care, their paid job and the cooking, cleaning and washing. Children are also in danger of being let off chores far too easily and the culture of teenagers today can put even more pressure on mums who end up frazzled and stressed.

Pressure to Work Longer Hours

Just as men have been forced to stay longer, put more than 100% effort and do all they can to keep jobs and earn promotions, women can also find themselves in a difficult position at work. Leaving a job at 3pm to pick up children from primary school is still frowned upon, and the combined guilt of feeling like you are not doing a job well, and then not being a good parent, means more stress.

Stress Management for Women

One of the most important things that women can do is to stop expecting themselves to do it all. Ask for help whenever you can – children can do chores, husbands and partners can pick up shopping (and clothes) and if they don’t, the world will not end if these things are not always done at the end of the day. It is vital for women to have time to get support from friends and family, to get quality adult company and to have some time to just do nothing.

Many women find it useful to practice a stress-relieving hobby such as a sport or exercise. Many studies have shown that half an hour of brisk walking can make a difference but getting moving and taking a break from all the worries of the day can really help. Activities like yoga, Pilates, relaxation and hypnosis can all be very useful too.

Goals and Ambitions

Something that all of us tend not to do is to think about the future in terms of where we want to be. There is quite a lot of evidence that people who set themselves goals actually achieve far more than the rest of us who just tend to muddle along. Setting goals can help to put things in perspective but they should not become another source of stress. Simple stress busting goals can be to make time for a hobby or outing once a week, to teach your children to swim, to save up for a holiday, to spend a weekend away.

Keeping A Perspective

Many women find it difficult to focus on what are the true priorities, trying constantly to make everything perfect. This is, of course, impossible. Sometimes it may be helpful to keep a daily diary of what you do each day for a few days – just to realise what you accomplish and also where your time goes. By taking time to analyse this can help to see what tasks and activities could be stopped, freeing up more time to relax, take exercise or just spend quality time with the family.

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