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The Dangers of Too Much Work Stress for Women

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According to an international survey of more than 13,000 people, women experience more work-related stress than men. But why is this the case, and what can we do as women to find more balance and happiness in our lives? The answer lies in understanding how the problem was created in the first place and considering a few ways to approach our workloads and lives in healthier, more fulfilling ways.

Historical Changes in the Nature of Work

Once upon a time, before the dawn of the industrial revolution and the mechanization of society, women, men, and children worked together in small farming endeavors and cottage industries to provide a modest living for their families. This enabled parents to take care of their children while they worked and simultaneously teach the next generation their skills, values, and beliefs.

Those who worked in more demanding business endeavors had nannies, governesses, cooks, and servants to take care of the domestic chores while they focused on management and administration. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

Work Becomes Centralized

When work moved from the home to factories and offices, work-life and home life became separated into two very different things. Most married women were forced to stay at home and care for children without participating in the new economy. Furthermore, disparities in educational levels between boys and girls meant that women often didn’t have the required knowledge or skills to get a job even if they wanted one.

Fast forward to the twentieth century, and we see women returning to the workforce in large numbers — only this time, women are expected to care for family members and the home as well as fulfill the responsibilities of full-time company jobs that were traditionally occupied by men. With former notions about women’s roles in the household often persisting despite this shift in the division of labor, it’s no wonder that we’re stressed to breaking point!

The Consequences of Work-Related Distressphoto-1503945438517-f65904a52ce6-315x210

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Although some stress is good and keeps us productive, distress occurs when the amount of pressure we experience causes anxiety to the point of not feeling that we are able to cope. In 2019, this represented 13% of the surveyed population, with 79% of women and 66% of men in the UK reporting that they suffered from work-related stress to some degree.

These stress levels have not been without their consequences on health. According to the study mentioned above, a workplace culture that is “always-on” frequently affects women’s quality of sleep and our ability to eat a balanced diet.

Work stress in women can also result in:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Weight Gain
  • Irregular Periods
  • Infertility
  • Lowered Sex Drive
  • Skin Problems
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack

Obviously, continuing in this direction is not healthy for us or society, but what can we do to establish healthier patterns and maintain our financial and workplace success?photo-1499750310107-5fef28a66643-315x210

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Be Proactive

The first step towards enjoying improved mental health and feeling more fulfilled is to accept responsibility for improving your situation and take at least one proactive step today. Whether that step is taking half an hour to make an action plan, going for a brisk walk outdoors, or calling someone to help you think through your situation, investing a little bit of time now to look at your long-term health can help you identify the areas that need improvement and could ultimately be the difference between sinking or swimming.

Delegate

The second step is to work out where your time and talents are best used and find other people to do everything else or help along the way. For example, if you earn a good salary and find your job fulfilling, hiring someone to clean your home can help alleviate the stress you may feel about maintaining home chores on top of a busy work schedule. If you have children that are old enough to help, teaching them how to complete various tasks at home and giving each one set duties will not only give them responsibility but also provide you with a much-needed break.

At work, delegation is an essential leadership skill that will help you to develop your business further. Administration, accounting, copywriting, and marketing are just some of the tasks that can easily be outsourced to a third party.photo-1556566353-cdcb88a69f3c-315x210

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Refine Your Priorities

In an era of personal empowerment and a “have it all” mentality, we sometimes don’t realize that — in reality — we can’t “have our cake and eat it too.” What does this mean? Well, for some, it could mean having a high-profile job, large house, expensive car, and 2.5 kids, but only having the time to see your children briefly at night and on the weekends. For others, it could mean traveling the world while working an online job but barely having the time to look up from your laptop and discover the people and places around you.

Just as we need to delegate jobs that are draining our time and energy unnecessarily, we also need to identify the activities and relationships that are the most important to us and focus our time and energy on those endeavors. That may mean getting to vacation less or live in a house with less expensive high-tech gadgets, but it could mean improved mental health and overall wellbeing.

Use Stress Management Techniquesphoto-1544161515-4ab6ce6db874-315x210

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If your job is on the stressful side but you’re generally happy in life, using stress-management techniques could provide the relaxing boost you need. Mindful meditation, prioritizing self-care and treating yourself to things like facials or massages, as well as going out on nature walks, and practicing deep breathing can all help you to unwind, disconnect from work, and increase your physical and mental health. Better still — doing these activities with your family and friends could provide a deeper connection while improving everyone’s health!

Consider Nutrition and Dietary Supplementsphoto-1555243896-c709bfa0b564-315x210

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Finally, you can’t give what you don’t have. If your tank is running on empty, there is simply no way that you can give 100% without burning yourself out and having to take time off work to recuperate your health. To give yourself the best chance of coping with the daily pressures of work, you must ensure that you sleep well, eat a nutritious diet, exercise your body, and stay hydrated. Herbs for stress relief and nutritional supplements can also add a needed energy boost in times of particular stress or when you need to get through a higher volume of work temporarily.

Take One Day at a Time

Whatever the stresses you’re facing at work, it’s important to take only one day at a time. Worrying about the past and fretting about the future not only compounds the burdens we carry each day and also zaps our much-needed energy and doesn’t allow us to focus on the task at hand.

If you continue to suffer from work-related stress and anxiety, consider talking to a mental health professional, your family, your employer, or your colleagues. Your health and happiness are worth fighting for!

About the Author

Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing but also enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home.

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