Are You An Expert In Multitasking?
You’re the mother, wife, teacher, cook, housekeeper, daughter, nurse, peacemaker, finance manager… Playing all these roles, every single day, is certainly commendable. But handling too many things at the same time is also extremely taxing – both mentally and physically. It can make you tired, stressed, angry, frustrated and fatigued, because there’s always so many things to do and so little time. Though many women consider multitasking a part of their lives, across time, the stress that comes with it can have a devastating effect on one’s body.
The Hurried Woman Syndrome
A relatively new health issue identified in women, the hurried woman syndrome, as the name suggests, is a condition caused due to a busy lifestyle and resulting stress. This condition affects not only women who juggle work, home and family, but also single women with demanding careers and even stayat- home moms who play several roles at the same time. The four major symptoms associated with the syndrome include moodiness, fatigue, rapid weight gain and low sex drive. These symptoms, over a period of time, can change one’s behaviour drastically and lead to conditions including clinical depression. According to health experts, this can also take a toll on relationships, marriage, work, socialising skills and overall physical health.
The Super Parent Syndrome
At times, women set unrealistic goals and push themselves to excel, without even thinking about their own health. They want to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher and perfect dietician, which leaves them stressed, tired, frustrated and at times, guilty. The stress they put on themselves to achieve what they think is perfect starts killing them from within. Studies say that millions of women across the world suffer from this syndrome, which affect them physically, mentally and emotionally.
How does stress affect you and your body?
Stress affects men and women in different ways. Worldwide studies due to the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress have revealed that acute and chronic stress takes greater toll on physical and mental health in women, compared to men.
When under stress, your body releases hormones like cortisol, which impacts everything including your immune system, skin, digestive system and brain, leading to problems ranging from indigestion to depression. Here are a few ways in which stress can affect your body:
Acute and chronic stress can alter the body’s hormone balance, leading to missed / late / irregular periods. Research says that women with stressful jobs get shorter periods due hormonal issues.
Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, which in turn leads to excess oil / sebum production and acne breakouts. Studies also point to the fact that stress aggravates skin allergies and even causes rashes.
Intense emotional or psychological stress causes physiological imbalances, which can lead to heavy hair loss. Stress disrupts the life cycle of the hair, causing it to go into its falling-out stage prematurely. Stress is also considered one of the main reasons for premature greying.
Prolonged stress affects the digestive system by increasing the acidity levels in the stomach. This can lead to indigestion and discomfort, and in some cases irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers.
Stress is directly linked to depression. Prolonged stress can alter the chemical reactions in the brain, leading to moodiness, depression and even suicidal tendencies.
Anxiety and stress can put the body on hyper mode, which in turn leads to sleeplessness. Lack of sleep, across time can lead to several neurological and psychological complications.
Higher levels of cortisol caused due to stress can lead to lower waist-to-hip ratio in women, as well as a decreased metabolism. High stress levels also cause increased appetite and sugar cravings, which in turn leads to rapid weight gain.
Increased Risk Of Heart Diseases & Stroke
Stress causes hypertension, which increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Reduced Sex Drive
Elevated levels of cortisol due to stress suppress the body’s natural sex hormones, leading to reduced sex drive in women.
Studies reveal that women with high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme linked to stress, had difficulty in conceiving.
Apart from hypertension, stress can also lead to lifestyle problems like diabetes, obesity and Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD).
How can you manage stress?
Your family’s health is what is most important to you. So your health should be important to them too. Sharing responsibilities and chores help reduce the workload, which means lesser stress. You can seek your husband’s help to take your children to the school, help them with homework and baby sit while you’re in the kitchen. Train your children to clean up their rooms, make their beds and wash their own plates. If you choose not to share responsibilities saying it’s not too much, you’re on the path to willingly ruin your health.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic when you set goals. Learn to say “no” when you should. Else you’ll burn out for no reason.
Change The Stressors
Some stressors (reasons for stress) cannot be avoided. So what do you do? Manage it well. There are things you can change and things you can’t, so be realistic and stop stressing over things you have no control over.
Manage Your Time
With so many roles to play, time will seem too short. Try to create a timetable and list of things to do (on a daily basis), so that you finish work on time and don’t miss out on anything important.
Take Time Out For Yourself
You are your biggest healer. If you don’t take time out to relax and calm your mind and body, stress will get the better of you.
Meditate / Do Yoga
Meditation and yoga can help calm your mind and body. Even praying in complete silence helps alleviate stress and anxiety.
Sleep is the best stress-buster. If you don’t sleep for at least 6 hours every night, your body will not be able to rejuvenate and heal itself.
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