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Multiple hats, multiple stressors
A daughter A mother A wife A homemaker A working woman A friend A sister And so on Women tend to play multiple roles simultaneously in a single day For each of these roles, there are expectations thrust upon them due to social constructs and choices Do we ever wonder if the pressures and expectations attached to these roles are even realistic
Who Are You?
A daughter? A mother? A wife? A homemaker? A working woman? A friend? A sister? And so on. Women tend to play multiple roles simultaneously in a single day. For each of these roles, there are expectations thrust upon them due to social constructs and choices. Do we ever wonder if the pressures and expectations attached to these roles are even realistic?
“There is neither a perfect woman nor a perfect way to play a role,” said Anna Chandy, Chairperson of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, during her recent talk on ‘Mental Health for Women’ in Bengaluru. .
According to social psychology, 'roles' are essentially the everyday activities that are played out of socially defined constructs. Women, who juggle between roles like a daughter, a wife, a mother and an employee, have a strict set of rules, responsibilities, expectations and behavioural standards that they are expected to live upto and fulfil on a daily basis. In contrast, men in a collective society, usually concentrate on office work-related responsibilities.
For women, the pressure of multiple roles leads to more tasks, time constraints and health-related problems. The stressors associated with such incompatible roles lead to ‘role conflict and strain’ among women.
Anna Chandy, while discussing this phenomenon said, “Some roles take importance over the other at some phases and stages of our lives. This is completely natural and women need not be guilty for making such a choice.”
Very often, some roles expected from social constructs can be in conflict with a woman’s personal goals in life in terms of career, relationships and family. Such overlaps and confusion, in turn, cause stressful impacts on their mental health, that if unaddressed can lead to stress related disorders, anxiety and depression. “Women need to keep in perspective that each role independently consumes immense physical and psychological energy. When this energy is depleted, it causes a role strain,” says Anna Chandy.
When women are faced with a severe role strain, their growth tampers and mental wellness is restricted. Anna Chandy points out that while balancing roles, women can never achieve an equity. “We all look for the ideal way to balance different roles. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen,” she said.
Further, women are shamed for not living up to these expectations. This blame reflects internally and adds to their silent suffering. A lot of mental health issues that women suffer from are often the effect of internalising their feelings, rather than expressing them. “When a woman’s stressors increase and she is unable to cope, and it is not addressed, it can lead into mental distress which can trigger depression and anxiety,” says Anna Chandy. Since psychological ailments are not prioritised over physical ailments, the silent struggle of women goes unnoticed and unreported in most cases.
Mental health is essentially the task of managing and containing our lives with our daily stressors. As our lives get complex due to external factors, maintaining a balance becomes a challenging task.