Stress levels amongst women can cause not only hormonal imbalances but also cause ageing. Working women across the board are known to be under the most amount of stress, especially when juggling work and family life. Aliya Aftab, a Lahore based psychologist talks to The Express Tribune regarding factors causing stress and how to combat them in daily life.
“Regardless of how progressive we may become, gender differences are still a huge issue in Pakistan,” says Aftab. “In the corporate world men still think women cannot handle pressure and hence cause a hindrance in their success.”
Aftab deals with clients from all walks of life and she has noticed that, “Independent women threaten men and the male gender fears female subordination.” This innate fear causes men to inevitably cause tension and politics in a work environment. From false accusations to making passes at them, all these issues lead to a stressful work environment.
“I learnt early on in life that as a woman I have to learn to drive along the highway of my life in a way that I should be able switch from the fast lane to the slow lane so that family and children and my professional life are balanced” says Shahima Rehman, Chairperson of the executive committee at Fatima Memorial System. “What stresses me out the most is when things don’t get done the way they were planned. When I see on the one hand how much potential there is in Pakistan’s youth, the energy, the yearning to learn, to get opportunities to achieve success, and on the other hand, the attitude of a section of society that either couldn’t care less, or simply put obstacles in the way of those who do.”
However, Aftab continues asserting the power of positive thinking, “We tend to lose hope very fast and negative energies surround us, it is very important that we remain positive because there is a solution to every problem.”
“Women generally like to subject themselves to self-pity and make remarks such as ‘nothing ever goes right in my life’ or ‘why me?’ or ‘I hate my life’. These negative insinuations eventually become imbedded in the subconscious.” Aftab adds that, “The human mind does not have the capacity to even take a single negative thought, hence, when we continuously repeat negative thoughts even the positive gets cancelled out.”
So how does one combat stress?
“The single most important factor in combating stress is positive thinking,” says Aftab. Breathing exercises are also important; the deeper a person breathes the freer the mind feels. Apart from this, Aftab advises working women to relax and enjoy themselves, “It is very important to socialise and have fun with your friends. The mind feels relaxed and distanced from routine problems. If you work too much you degenerate so take vacation. Go away for a little while. De-focus and think about other things.”
De-stress ala Meesha Shafi
“I am particular about the quality of work I do, at the same time, I like taking timeout in between projects to unwind, spend time at home with my family and friends. I say no to mediocre work very easily. After having a baby, my time has become more valuable than ever. Almost all of my free time is now my husband’s and daughter’s. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I am happiest when I am at home with family.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.
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