Women Today: Stressed and Unhappy

overworked-woman-stressIt’s a hard time to be a woman these days. We bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and feel unappreciated wherever we go, much less the sexy w-o-m-a-n in the Enjoli ad.

According to a new survey from the American Psychological Association, women report higher levels of stress at work than men. Two thirds of the 1,500 women surveyed said they have no opportunity to advance; half reported feeling unappreciated; and half felt as though they were underpaid. In general, one-third of employed women felt chronic stress due to work.

Findings from a nine-year study on women’s stress was also discussed in the Journal of Women’s Health. The authors found that the pressure of women in society – their vital place at home combined with their growing role in the workplace – is leading to substantial burnout in the middle-aged woman.

Finally, in her book “The Happiness Choice,” Marilyn Tam cites some happiness statistics for the female gender:

  • Women’s overall level of happiness has decreased compared to what it was 40 years ago – and to men.
  • The drop occurs regardless of their financial position, marital status, children, age, or race.
  • According to a 2010 “Working Mother” survey, 40 percent of working women drink heavily to cope with stress and 57 percent said they have misused prescription drugs.

Tam discusses some antidotes for the unhappiness and stress in her book. I most appreciated her chapter on relationships because I always forget to find refuge there – in my friendships and family, thinking if only I finish the deadline I’m working on, then … only then will I feel at peace. The beautiful quotes peppered throughout her pages speak to the charge in energy and hope relationships can offer a barren psyche in we have the motivation to get out of the way:

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. –Carl Jung

And my favorite about staying focused on what is good and right:

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation. –Alan Cohen

Originally published on Sanity Break at EverydayHealth.com

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4 thoughts on “Women Today: Stressed and Unhappy

  1. Therese, please accept this word of recognition and profound gratitude to you and all women during this time when your words so accurately portray the plight of women. I’ve included excerpts from “Letter to Women” by John Paul II circa 1994
    ” This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world is at the same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman, for all that they represent in the life of humanity.

    Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

    Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.

    Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.

    Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

    Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God’s love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a “spousal” relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.

    Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

    3. I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Gospel vision. When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?

    Yes, it is time to examine the past with courage, to assign responsibility where it is due in a review of the long history of humanity. Women have contributed to that history as much as men and, more often than not, they did so in much more difficult conditions. I think particularly of those women who loved culture and art, and devoted their lives to them in spite of the fact that they were frequently at a disadvantage from the start, excluded from equal educational opportunities, underestimated, ignored and not given credit for their intellectual contributions. Sadly, very little of women’s achievements in history can be registered by the science of history. But even though time may have buried the documentary evidence of those achievements, their beneficent influence can be felt as a force which has shaped the lives of successive generations, right up to our own. To this great, immense feminine “tradition” humanity owes a debt which can never be repaid. Yet how many women have been and continue to be valued more for their physical appearance than for their skill, their professionalism, their intellectual abilities, their deep sensitivity; in a word, the very dignity of their being!

    4. And what shall we say of the obstacles which in so many parts of the world still keep women from being fully integrated into social, political and economic life? We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes its very survival to this gift. Certainly, much remains to be done to prevent discrimination against those who have chosen to be wives and mothers. As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State.

    This is a matter of justice but also of necessity. Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the pro- cesses of humanization which mark the “civilization of love”. And it shall come to pass…

    1. The same man who condemned women and children (particularly in third world countries) to suffering and death due to some archaic notion that contraception was a sin (whatever). Instead he ‘urged abstinence and marital fidelity to stop the spread of AIDS and forbids condoms’.I won’t even go into the more gorey aspects of what women and girls go through (particularly in Africa) due to this ridiculous ‘teaching’. This man was NO FRIEND of women.

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