For a woman today, the world is her oyster. A large number of women are excelling in various industries and inching towards high-ranking positions. However, even as more women take up career-driven roles, they also continue to manage their households and take care of the daily domestic tasks. Given these additional responsibilities, focusing on one’s general well-being, let alone mental health, is a constant challenge.
The mental health dilemma
Most general health concerns have evident physical symptoms. A persistent pain warrants a visit to the doctor. In comparison, the obscure symptoms related to mental health concerns often get brushed under the rug.
While diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders would be the same for both men and women, the implications relating to mental health and spectrum of mental health conditions differ for both men and women. It is important to consider that access to societal, economical and healthcare resources differ for women. Postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoria are also mental health concerns related to female hormonal changes during pregnancy and menstruation respectively.
Keeping all this in mind, it is important to see women’s mental health through a different lens. A multifaceted perspective is vital to tackle the daily challenges that limit a woman from putting her mental health at the forefront.
Tackling the nuances
The best way to seek help is to know when you need it. But women often tend to place their families’ needs at the forefront, neglecting their own. Another aspect that’s not often explored is how women tend to internalise conflict with others or within themselves. Be it professionally or personally, women handle situations with deep reflections which can often result in negativity that chips away at a stable mental ecosystem. They may also seek momentary relief from their bruised mental state through quick-fix habits like smoking, drinking or compulsive eating.
Within a patriarchal construct, many women are still primary homemakers and sole caregivers. While the external portrait of a “family” is envisioned, lifting up the internal slack usually lies on a woman’s shoulders.
Given all the roles a woman is expected to play, it is easy to mistake the feeling of being overwhelmed, or just another bad day, for more serious issues like burnout, depression or anxiety. But it is so important to realise that a piling up of bad days is a sign, and could be a simple cry for help.
Putting mental health in focus
In order to be able to see mental health with a focused lens, it is essential to create awareness of its growing requirement within a daily routine. Something as simple as a decrease in productivity should make women halt and take some time to reflect on their mental health.
The key here is taking a COMPLETE break from the daily grind. During this time, it is imperative to disconnect from both personal and professional commitments to repair and rejuvenate. At this point, it would be good to know that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to tackling mental health concerns. What may work for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Figure out what works for YOU.
Mental well-being is a process. Each woman should identify what she requires to nourish her mental health. Exercise, a healthy diet, and stress relief are vital elements for mental well-being. Mental health often requires tuning out and inculcating a habit of relaxation within your routine.
A healing circle
A pivotal requirement for fostering a healthy mental ecosystem is building a support circle. This includes family, friends and professional coaches. Talking about day-to-day concerns is important because it helps defuse unknown contributors chipping away at mental health.
Seeking professional help is crucial; more so when you are unable to cope with your daily tasks. Checking in with a psychologist once a year, just like you would with a general health physician, is a good practice. And when daily life gets difficult to handle, seeking help is a necessity. Dismissing it only worsens a current predicament—similar to neglecting a gnawing pain in any part of your body.
General health and well-being come with physical and mental components. Both require some TLC every now and then. Taking time out for yourself is required: not just every couple of months, but on a daily basis. When the going gets tough, halt. Take a few steps back. Breathe.
As a woman, there is so much more left to conquer. Ensure that you are putting your best self forward.