How Women Can Take a Moment to Pause and Reduce Stress

Sometimes all it takes is to physically take a step back, inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Or take time out for coffee-breaks with friends, a movie, perhaps. Just learn to let go, to forgive.

Illustration by Freepik
Illustration by Freepik

It may be debatable, but I believe women have to work twice as hard as men in several aspects of life ranging from personal to professional to sustain in a world full of competition and stress.

Women wear multiple hats and have acquired the skill to juggle them successfully. We are daughters, mothers, professionals, managers, homemakers, dreamers, achievers. We want to be seen as strong and confident in all that we do and that comes at a cost—our self-esteem.

Soon, resentment and stress become a part of life. We need to learn to step back, pause and introspect. While navigating through multiple roles in life, our confidence takes a beating because of the stress we are subjected to. Therefore we need to give ourselves time and validation to sustain our confidence level.

So how do we identify a problem when it has become a habit?

Certain facets of our life may not feel right. But we have accepted them as a way of life. We have been conditioned over generations about how a woman should come across as. When we were young, our mothers unconsciously led us to believe that we must maintain a demure image and not argue, fight or talk too loud.

We grow up accepting a lot of ‘inequalities’ or have to work hard and fight against such ‘norms’. Although men have different qualities than women, both important and useful, we bring our own unique attributes to this world, our society, and our family.

We can be fantastic nurturers, we are emotionally stronger, we are likely to have better focus, we turn out to be excellent managers and have an edge when it comes to offering greater attention to details.

It helps us to be aware, accept as well as focus on our uniqueness and derive our strength from it rather than complaining about or resenting it. 

What will help us in our quest to be the ‘ideal’ women and be seen as achievers and allow us to dream big?

Does multitasking overwhelm us instead of boosting effectiveness? Perhaps, it may be harder for us to climb the corporate ladder.

Can we change the male-dominated trend in this world by being aggressive or by complaining? Maybe we are devoting more time to our family and our children which is undoubtedly a lot more than our spouses.

Are we giving any time or value for ourselves? Are we putting ourselves in constant stress?

As a woman, a wife, a mother and a professional, we constantly struggle to give our best to the different roles we play in life. We often think we can handle the children better and allow the strain of child-rearing to rest longer on our shoulders. We often do not expect, let alone ask for help in household responsibilities.

To be seen as equally efficient in the office, we take up more work and work for longer hours. If there is physical or emotional abuse, we may end up tolerating it due to the lack of a better option. If we choose to fight we could be termed aggressive.

Where is the balance? How do we cope with all this stress?

While smoking and drinking socially may not be harmful, as an escape from stress, it could result in addiction.

We cope with stress by procrastinating, denial or ignoring the problem at hand and end up playing blame games. My maid is often late and irresponsible; my office staff never gives the report on time, why can’t my children be more responsible?

The list is endless.

Our body needs rest when certain symptoms arise. These could be aches and pains for which the doctors have no remedy. It might be genetic or it could be just a niggling headache.

How many times are we in denial when there is physical or emotional abuse? We might want to ignore and wish the problem away as we have neither time nor energy to deal with them now.

Yes, it takes courage. It takes courage to say ‘No’. Yes, there is fear. But everything we want is often on the other side of fear.

How to change

Now that we recognise the problems and pitfalls, we want to change. But most of us do not know how to change. Often, all it takes is physically taking a step back, inhaling a deep breath and exhaling it out slowly. 

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Yet it is potent. These few seconds are enough to allow our brain to move from its default 24/7 ‘stress’ mode to a ‘creative’ window.

All the solutions are within us, right there in the creative side of our brain. This method of stepping back and observing ourselves is an effective first step.

What are the other tools to help us access our creative side, other than a few slow breaths?

If we, as women, want to give our best in all the multiple roles, we first need to give ourselves ‘Me Time and Me Space’. If we don’t pace ourselves, take a pause, validate ourselves, how can we add value to others, be it in our personal or professional life?

Take time out for coffee-breaks with friends, a movie, perhaps. It is a good platform to share, even bitch a little and laugh our heads off. 

Learn to let go, to forgive. Forgiveness is only complete when we forgive and forget. It lets the big burden off our shoulder.

Empathy helps one look at issues from another perspective, while not necessarily agreeing with it. Try to understand a colleague’s issues, sometimes beyond work. It will lead to healthy conversations, even if it is a difficult one.

Looking for and focusing on even the smallest positive aspect in our spouse, our children, and appreciating them is a great step forward to building that solid trust.

All these steps help us to define our boundaries better and make it easier to say ‘No’ and be assertive and confident. It boosts our self-esteem, your image, and self-worth.

The more we exercise these mindful practises, the more we will access our creative brain and find that perfect balance. It helps us be in choice, from resentment and stress to happiness and excitement, seeking opportunities in challenges. It allows us to blossom into strong, confident women with abundant energy, sharing that happiness while nurturing others, while we also unleash success in whatever we want to do. 

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