Research shows that women, in general, and working mothers specifically, face higher levels of stress than men. This affects the health of women adversely. According to a city-based doctor, this happens because women “bear a greater role in diffusing the work load as compared to men.” So, when it comes to the holiday season, women end up getting more stressed out.
“During holidays and festivals, women often feel the pressure to plan, shop, cook, decorate and coordinate seasonal rituals, purchase or arrange for gifts, entertain the guests, pack for holidays, and look after the children. Their husbands, children, parents, and family expect them to do the bulk of the work,” says Sonal Sheth, psychotherapist and counsellor.
According to Dr Bandita Sinha, gynaecologist and obstetrician, “an increasing number of women complain of higher blood pressure post-holiday”. She says, “One of the most vulnerable times for illnesses is the one that immediately follows a period of high mental and physical activity, when we are finally able to let go and relax. Ironically, at the same time, we let down our guard physically and mentally. So, the body’s immune system also lets its guard down.”
Heart attacks, strokes and diabetes are some other stress-induced illnesses. Many of these major diseases have mild symptoms that are not taken seriously, as individuals tend to ignore them. A woman’s sole intent could be throwing the most-memorable party or putting up the best décor. But, it is highly recommended that women do not forget to take care of themselves amid the chaos of ongoingfestivities. Experts suggest ways of making your holidays stress-free :
Manage your stress
Don’t get overwhelmed and go out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress include finding support, connecting socially and getting plenty of sleep. When there are unforeseen problems, don’t take them personally or get hyper. Be light-hearted, have a positive attitude and adapt to unexpected situations.
Distribute work among family members
Do not hesitate to ask for help. In fact, guests prefer to take on some small tasks, instead of standing around while you attempt to do everything yourself. Involve your husband or ask an older relative if he or she would mind greeting guests at the door. Encourage the children to participate in the daily household duties by making it a fun job.
Many social smokers go overboard as they are ‘relaxing on holiday’. However, try to avoid it, as smokers face greater health risks because of their tobacco use.
Exercise and food safety
Wash your hands often, avoid contamination, and cook food at proper temperatures and refrigerate it promptly.
Eat healthy and stay active
Eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. Limit your portion sizes, and avoid food that is high on fat, salt and sugar. Do not skip your exercise routine.
Do not ignore the signs
Listen to your body if it is complaining. Be mindful of its complaints. Watch out for negative thoughts that may come to your mind. Slow down before they become too overpowering.
Beware of perfectionist tendencies
Be satisfied with ‘good enough’. Don’t always go for the bigger and better option when planning your holiday. Learn when to say ‘no’, even if there are pending items on your ‘to-do’ list. Make sure you find some me time.
(— With inputs from Dr Pradnya Parulkar, obstetrician and gynaecologist, and Dr Pradeep Ghadge,consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist.)