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5 Tips For Women To Reduce Stress And Reclaim Their Sanity

31Aug2011
5 Tips For Women To Reduce Stress And Reclaim Their Sanity
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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.

“If you ask me what the single most important key to longevity is, I would have to say avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I will still have to say it.” ~ George Burns

In a modern world, that is stretching our limits of physical and mental endurance, the single most widely seen reason for most ailments has to be stress. Stress is our body’s reaction to something that upsets the balance of a healthy life.

And it’s the things that bring pleasure bring pain too. It’s the things and people that overwhelm us that also cause us to experience stress, stressful enough to cause physical or psychological symptoms.

The symptoms of stress range from chronic fatigue to a decrease in your sexual desire, insomnia, loss of appetite etc. The even more worrying fact is that all these symptoms can be a precursor to ailments like heart disease, depression and even as doctors suspect cancer.

So what can one do say goodbye to stress, and move back to a more energetic and healthier life? The answer lies in following some very inexpensive, simple but effective stress busters.

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.

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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.

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4 Benefits Of Daily Meditation For Women

The practice 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.

Buddha Quote

10 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 10 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 practice 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. Clean up your act

A good first move is to get rid of artificial stimulants, like alcohol, caffeine and smoking, which only mask the symptoms and do nothing to cure the cause of stress. Instead, eat well and eat right.

Any doctor or nutritionist will tell you that a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables is the way to reduce anxiety and stress to the lowest level. It’s not just what you eat, it’s also when you eat it.

Snacking between means is a no-no, and so is excess dessert and too much of your daily cuppa. Time your meals, and when you eat, make sure it’s a wholesome and healthy food that you ingest.

4. 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.

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5. Chant a fitness mantra

The best way to start a day is to indulge in some vigorous exercise to get back into the groove of being on a physical and mental high. Join a health club or go for a run every day.

You can also opt for fun exercises where you combine various styles of dance with fitness. Consider this as your own sacred time, and don’t let anyone or anything interfere with it.

6. Become a child again

Rediscover the activities you enjoyed in your days as a carefree child and teen. Get outdoors, play music, run around, watch cartoons, tickle your friends, climb a tree, play ball, and allow yourself the freedom to express yourself without worrying what others might think of you.

You could simply join a group of children in your neighbourhood and see how much fun it is to do things you did as a child. If you have a younger nephew/niece who lives with you, try spending a day with him/her and watch the little joys come alive in your life.

7. Be good to yourself

Sometimes the giver needs to stop giving, and if you’re one of those who find yourself giving and doing for everyone at all times, stop, pause, reflect and renew your ways of working with yourself and others.

Surround yourself with positive people who lift your spirits and make you happy. If there’s someone constantly trying to bring you down, don’t encourage them, and feel justified in disengaging yourself from interacting with that person.

Set one goal at a time and pursue it to its completion. Setting unrealistic goals will set you up for defeat and create a situation where stress becomes unavoidable.

8. 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. Put your own needs first and learn to say no. If you don’t put your foot down and assert yourself, the world will walk over you.

Don’t fall into the trap of being “nice” and giving your all for everyone. Set your priorities first, achieve them and only then get around to helping others. 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.

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9. Practice emotional self-care

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection,” said the Buddha.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ 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:

10. Indulge. Invest. Enjoy.

Lastly, indulge yourself. Invest in something relaxes and rejuvenates you. Buy some candles, aroma oils and surround yourself with these little luxuries, a good book and soothing music and just let the magic begin.

Getting a soothing massage or enrolling yourself for some spa treatments could also do the trick. Something as simple and practical like Pranayama (deep breathing and meditation) can help soothe your senses and calm you down.

Once you get around to following these guidelines, you’ll see the amazing effects on your stress levels and change your entire outlook towards life. Moreover, you’ll learn coping strategies to deal with stress in a healthy and timely manner.

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 10 tips to reduce stress and regain your sanity.

Things that seemed overwhelming will soon become trivial matters, causing you to wonder what the problem ever was. Not only will you be less stressed, but you’ll also be healthier, happier, and more energetic, ready to face any obstacles that come your way.

About the author:

Priya Florence Shah is the Group Editor at SHEROES and author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women.

Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. For more information, read our disclosure.

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