Studies have found that 87% of women in India are stressed and have no time to relax. Here are 5 tips for Indian women to reduce stress in their lives.
Why Stress Is Killing Women In India
Hopelessly tired, mental fatigue after a long day of meetings, a 3-minute lunch break, ten cups of coffee, endlessly checking your cell phone to see if your child has called after getting back home from school, thinking about the weekend where you will play host to ten relatives, barely being able to hug your husband when you get back home at 11 pm – does any or all of it sound familiar?
Chances are, you will relate to at least some of it as an Indian woman. Global research firm, Nielsen, conducted a survey that included 6500 women from developed and developing countries such as Sweden, the US, France, Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, India and Russia.
The result – 87% of the respondents from India said they felt stressed most of the time, and 82% said they didn’t have time to relax. Women in Mexico (74%) and Russia (69%) come in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the stress race.
Women have always been known to be multi-tasking goddesses. But the flip side to this is the high levels of stress it is resulting in today. There are definitely more opportunities for women in India today.
But somehow, the expectations of what a woman needs to do at home and her support system haven’t really helped her embrace these opportunities without falling prey to stress.
The changes in social outlook and ideas that talk about equal opportunities for women have not yet been completely able to wash over the age-old notions about decision making at home, and who does the chores.
Indian women do have the facilities to appoint a domestic help to clean, or a cook or driver, but in reality, this doesn’t help with removing stress from their lives. This is thanks to the fact that expectations from an Indian woman keep rising with all these added benefits.
Workplace benefits like working from home and flexi-hours have been great in helping women look after their kids, and sometimes an ailing parent or spouse. But with these benefits too, come some cons.
A 32-year old IT professional says, “When I work from home, I’m constantly worried about finishing my work fast and then do my grocery shopping, buy medicines for my father-in-law, take my son out to the park, and a million other things.”
Women are expected to adhere to deadlines constantly, at home and at the workplace. The same IT professional says “By the time it’s 11 pm and I’ve finished dinner, I feel so exhausted, all I can do is sleep. But I realize I need to iron my son’s uniform, and I’m nearly in tears.”
One cannot forget the very important phase of childbirth itself that a woman goes through. There are additional parameters like buying a home, a second car, a child’s education costs, and several others that a woman contributes to today.
When not complemented with a sound support system, stress and its side effects become chronic pain in her life. Conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Premenstrual Syndrome, and even miscarriages are linked to high levels of stress.
The results of the survey, however, have ramifications for not just a woman and her family, but for the growth of India socially and economically.
4 Benefits Of Daily Meditation For Women
The practise of meditation has been around for several millennia and is a way for us to be still for a while and let our minds become focused until we become calm enough to deal with the daily pressures of life.
Here are 4 benefits of daily meditation for women.
1. Reduces stress
Since meditation helps calm the mind and relax the individual, it helps a lot in reducing stress. This is usually achieved through the breathing exercises that form a part of the practice. Stress reduction is one of the main reasons why people take up meditation.
More than three decades of scientific research at medical centres all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness can positively and often profoundly affect participants’ ability to reduce stress, pain, illness, and medical symptoms
2. Health and healing
There are many documented cases where meditation was shown to have helped in curing an illness.
A landmark study in 1976, by Australian psychiatrist Ainslie Meares, which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia documented how a patient’s cancer regressed after sessions of intensive meditation.
Meditation is also known to lower blood pressure levels, which is beneficial to patients who are at risk of hypertension and other heart-related conditions.
3. Improves focus and concentration
One practice in meditation involves focusing on a particular object such as candlelight or reciting a mantra. Doing activities like these have been shown to improve a person’s focus and concentration.
4. Greater acceptance of life events
Another aspect of meditation is the ability to take things as they are. This helps a lot in reducing a person’s frustrations over things that she cannot control. People who will surely benefit from this include those who need anger management.
People practice meditation for a variety of reasons. The benefits to people’s mental well-being were and still remains as one of the central aspects of meditation.
While it helps us attain stillness and mindfulness in this fast-paced world, other people meditate for health reasons and to attain a higher state of consciousness. So if you think that life is stressing you out, it’s probably time for you to slow things down a little bit.
Your mind is probably too distracted with so many things to consider and to think about. Meditation can help you calm down and let you be stress and worry-free.
5 Tips For Indian Women To Reduce Stress
For the burden of stress on Indian women to come down even a little, age-old attitudes towards them need to be changed. Here are 5 tips for Indian women to reduce stress in their lives.
1. Stop multi-tasking
There is increasing evidence that multi-tasking is not only a very inefficient way to conduct our lives but also dangerous in many ways. In July 2006, UCLA published a study showing that “Multi-tasking adversely affects how you learn.”
Stanford researchers say even trying to multitask may impair your cognitive control. Numerous studies have shown the sometimes-fatal danger of using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.
In our lives, we function best when we give complete attention to one task before going on to the next. The book, The 4-Hour Workweek, by best-selling business advice author, Timothy Ferriss, extol the virtues of “single-tasking”.
The practise of mindfulness or “single-focus” by followers of Buddhism has shown to benefit the brain in many ways. Be where you are, otherwise, you will miss your life, said Buddha.
2. Don’t be a superwoman
Don’t expect yourself to be a superwoman. This is not only a very egoistic way to be, but it also says something about your need to control everything in your life.
Smart women learn to delegate various aspects of their lives and even to train their Indian husbands to take over some tasks (yes, it can be done).
3. Ask for help
Don’t expect to be able to handle all your emotional stresses alone. Build a support structure to help you deal with it. Talk to your spouse or your girlfriends.
If your stress levels are getting too high, talk to a counsellor to deal with your life issues. Recurrent stresses usually have an underlying cause which needs to be treated at the root level.
4. Learn to say “No”
A lot of our problems come from taking on too much responsibility, for our husbands, our in-laws and even sometimes extended family. Learn to say No when it is really not your responsibility. You are not responsible for anyone but your kids and, to some extent, your husband.
Stop being a people-pleaser and give up the pressure of wanting everyone to like you. If someone is asking you to do something you know will regret taking on, say No in a way they will be able to accept.
It’s a myth that assertive people are belligerent and opinionated, yelling when angry and totally unapproachable. But that’s not what assertiveness really is.
Assertiveness is a skill, and like any skill, it can be taught so it becomes an innate part of you. Like learning to drive, or speaking a language; you can learn it and make it a habit.
5. Practice emotional self-care
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection,” said the Buddha.
When you do so much for others, surely you can take some time and do something for yourself. Here are some emotional self-care practices to reduce stress:
- Take an exercise class or practise yoga to reduce stress
- Download free meditation audios
- Deep breathing exercises reduce stress
- Take up relaxing hobbies to reduce stress
- Go for a massage or spa treatment
- Allow someone else to pamper you for some time. Even if it seems selfish, it is not.
- Mindfulness exercises and activities can decrease anxiety and reduce stress
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Online Training Course is the most scientifically studied, tested and proven mindfulness training program. It uses evidence-based practices and principles to help you draw upon your inner resources for greater health, balance, and peace of mind.
My book, Devi2Diva, is an emotional self-care book with a number of essential self-care ideas and self-care tips for women and moms to improve their emotional health. When you get the book, you’ll get access to my Devi2Diva Online Course plus Bonus courses worth over $40.
If your tank is running on empty, you’re not doing anyone a favour. Only when you learn to fill yourself up from within will you have something to offer others. Practice these 5 tips to reduce stress and regain your sanity.
Priya Florence Shah is the publisher of Naaree.com and the author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women. In the book and online course, you’ll learn how to throw off the shackles of your own limiting beliefs, come into your power and design your destiny.
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