Women and Stress

Indian women have moved into the workforce in an unmistakable wave. In modern societies today, many of them bear the dual burden of managing the home and a career. The infrastructure necessary to help them: crèches, dependable childcare, help from husbands, gadgets to make housework easier, is not yet in place. This generation of transitional women is at high risk from heart disease, particularly during the menopausal years. Statistics show that women have fifty per cent chance of dying of heart disease, ten times higher than their risk of dying by breast cancer.

The traditional shock absorber of the family, particularly in Indian families is the woman. Dual responsibilities have reduced her capacity to perform this role. Her ability to absorb and reduce tensions has been greatly compromised. The tensions building up in a nuclear family can have a negative impact on health. The two-income family brings an increased pay check, while insidiously increasing the risk factors for heart disease. Huge reserves of patience are required to cope with this new, changed family structure. Most do not have these reserves.

As women climb to higher levels of the corporate ladder, alternative strategies have to be found to maintain the nurturing capacity of the family. Only joint efforts by the couple and the involvement of elders and the extended family, or community support can adequately fill this gap. This is a never-discussed pressure-cooker situation, hazardous to health, lethal for the heart, building up in modern families.