Adult women today are under more stress than women in any previous generation. While the sources of stress are both internal and external, there’s no doubt that stress has a deleterious effect on women’s health, and that it can certainly accelerate the aging process.
One of the stressors that women face is the enormous pressure to juggle family and work. With over 70 percent of elementary school children having a working mom, mothers strive to shine in their careers while giving their children the care and attention they need to thrive. Throw in assorted soccer practices, dance lessons, swim team trials, and other after school activities – plus the occasional business trip – and women often find themselves racing from one event to another. Housekeeping chores, even when shared, add another layer of “to-dos” to a woman’s life. The end result is that the things that a woman does for her own physical, spiritual, and mental health fall to the bottom of the list, and are all too often neglected.
Another major stressor in women’s lives – and one that is surely detrimental to women’s health – is the emphasis that advertisers and the media place on a woman’s appearance. Although there have been some acknowledgements that this is a factor, and some companies have changed their ad campaigns to incorporate images of “real women,” women today still hold unrealistic expectations of their own health and beauty. Given that the average American woman is five feet, five inches tall and 160 pounds, the pressure to become model-thin is often irresistible. As a result, women spend inordinate amounts of time, energy, and money on weight loss plans and exercise regimes that do little to permanently alter their physiques and instead stress them out even more.
At its most basic, the key to women’s health and healthy aging is stress relief. Relieving stress is an active choice that women must make, and one that will ultimately make them better partners, mothers, and workers. Here are three preliminary steps that will move any woman towards having more energy and mental clarity, as well as a greater sense of satisfaction:
1. Prioritize – You can’t do it all, but you can do most of it. Make a list of the values and goals that are most important to you, and then take a hard look at the ways you spend your time. Are your activities supporting your values and goals? If not, drop those that don’t support you and focus your energy on those that do.
2. Engage in Self-Care – Unless your proverbial cup is full, you won’t have anything to give anyone else. That means taking care of your body, mind, and soul. Set aside time each week to nourish your spirit, and nourish your body with the health food and health supplements that will give you the energy to go about your day.
3. Learn to Say “No” – Most women are people pleasers, and are too quick to agree to anything that is asked of them. Learn to set good boundaries with others and you will feel less stressed and better able to focus on the activities that are important to you and your family’s well-being.