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The multi-tasking woman of today, who takes pride in juggling both domestic and professional commitments simultaneously, has unwittingly allowed stress to get the better of her. While it’s true that everyday life has become a hassle to many, a woman’s response to the demands of modern life often takes a heavy toll on her mind and body.

Stress and its impact

Stress can be defined as the response of an individual to a stimulus. The response, be it positive or negative, has an impact on the mental and physical well-being of the individual. During the process of a physical response to a situation that is loaded with threat or danger, the nervous system triggers the defence mechanisms through release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in one’s body as it prepares for an emergency action.

We have heard it often – that stress is not always bad and in fact it helps an individual to perform better and motivates him to excel. However, in the context of modern life accompanied by challenges of unrealistic goals and deadlines, broken relationships, unhealthy competitions and frustrations, stress is more often recognised as a negative response that demands a heavy price from one’s mind and body.

Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavour of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you”, says Donald Tubesing, the famous writer who has authored several books on stress management.

Even as stress helps individuals to rise up to the occasion and meet challenges, beyond a certain point it unleashes a negative impact that damages the physical, mental and behavioural aspects of life and dilutes its quality. Response to stress varies from individual to individual. The variation in is more pronounced between men and women. A woman caught in the nightmarish whirlpool of work-life balance, gradually gets used to a stressful routine on a daily basis thereby enabling chronic stress caused due to factors related to family, finance, work, relationships etc., to creep on her. Compounding to the negative impact is the stress caused by internal factors like pessimistic attitude, low-esteem, unreasonable expectations etc., Unable to bear the overload of stress, a woman’s body and mind wilt under the pressure, releasing warning symptoms.

Watch out for these manifestations

Instead of crumbling under the pressure of stress, what can a woman do to shield herself against the damages caused by stress? Always remember that an individual’s ability to withstand stress and overcome its pressures is hugely dependent upon factors like her general outlook on life, emotional intelligence, her relationships and genetics.

It is imperative for women to understand that stress management is all about acquiring control over the physical, mental and emotional aspects of their lives. A woman, who intends to decrease her stress level, if not totally eliminate it, should take concrete steps to improve the quality of her life.

The genetic angle

Genetic studies now indicate that acute stress can alter the activity and control of one’s genes by altering the methylation of DNA. The stress-induced genetic expressions that are responsible for making an individual prone to illnesses are also likely to be passed on to the next generation through a process known as epigenetic inheritance. It is of paramount importance that a woman understands all the implications of becoming a victim of stress. Stressful experiences not only affect her mind and body, but also affect her genes which she, in all probability, would transmit to her children. Researchers say that epigenetic inheritance can make individuals predisposed to stress and make them less resilient in their response to stress. This leads to the onset of chronic diseases.

The all important key to one’s happiness in life depends on his or her ability to overcome stress. As a woman, if you feel that stress is inevitable in your life, you have a choice as to whether you want to let it impact your health or not. By adopting the right attitude one can convert the negative impact of stress into a positive one. Undue worry and stress not only add to tomorrow’s woes but also wipe away the peace and happiness that one is blessed with today!

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