How work stresses out married wome
15 January, 2008
ISLAMABAD: Call anyone on a work morning and you will get an almost unified response, "I am stressed." It’s natural for any working woman, who manages responsibilities at home and work. Stress has some visible and many hidden health symptoms ranging from spondilytis, lower back pain and metacarple syndrome, though visible, go untreated till they reach an advanced stage.
Worse than these are the health problems at work that manifest themselves only after they have reached an acute condition. The impact of these diseases compounds due to sedentary lifestyles, work pressures, poor diet habits, and especially with working women, the pressures of being the family caretaker.
Stress is caused by a multitude of known and well understood factors, but it is accentuated by factors that can be entirely controlled. For women, "at work" stress levels are significantly higher, since they face added problems of the omnipresent glass ceiling often compounded by gender bias. With the work environment becoming fiercely competitive, such stress-related tensions only multiply. You would be surprised to see how many times you have come across these symptoms, but ignored them.
How many times would you find a colleague, whose anxiety and irritability levels are abnormally high? If your colleague went to a psychiatrist, this would probably be diagnosed as affective disturbance.
Then there are behaviour problems, which may result in substance abuse, sleep disorders and somatic complaints, which include repetitive headaches and gastrointestinal problems. We all must have had at least a few of these complaints but none ever classified as a disease serious enough to see a doctor.
Causes of work-related stress range from limited job opportunities, lack of control over one’s work, non-supportive work environment, role ambiguity or conflict and even rotating shift work. A not-so-surprising find is that irregular eating habits and poor diet aggravate the stress.
Ways to control stress:
1. Eat smart: It’s not about how much or what you eat, but about how smart you eat! If you deprive yourself of what you really want, you probably will end up more stressed than you started off. Examples of eating smart include using safe sugar substitute products like sucralose instead of actual sugar in your tea/coffee, having your masala omelettes without the yolk or just ensuring you’re having a roasted papad instead of a fried one.
2. Don’t sleep with the problem, sleep on it. It’s true that you will be able to see the better side of any problem once you have slept on it. Sleep provides perspective. But please don’t try to solve the problem in your sleep. You will only end up losing sleep. Sleep is a rejuvenator, make sure you get enough of it.
3. Understand changes in your temperament and body. Many of your symptoms are sometimes such that while the world notices them, you tend to ignore them.
4. Be sensitive to alterations in your body. Your body is a thermometer, which gives you immediate indicators, if something goes wrong. Once you know it and are aware of it, the solution will be closer at hand. No one wants to be ill. Though only very few take enough precautions to ensure that. An ambitious, young married woman with a job has a lot to deal with.
Peer and family pressure in the form of work deadlines, family dinners and PTA meetings can only add to this stress. To juggle these, the woman of today has to work smart, eat smart and be smart!