Exhausted. Stressed by work pressure. Running from one place to another to meet the thousand commitments of the day. Resting as little as they can. Sleeping badly with a rickety health…
It is not the portrait of the fifties in the midst of a menopausal crisis, but of a young women, thirty years old, subjected to a tension that has set off all alarms. The pandora’s box was opened by Swedish psychologists from Umeå University, who warn that today’s 30-year-olds women are not only more stressed than those of the 1990s, but since then the proportion of women suffering from anxiety and other illnesses triggered by stress, it’s been duplicated.
The female well-being in free fall
The researchers analyzed 1,811 men and women between the ages of 25 and 34 from different generations: 1990, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. They were asked a very simple question: How do you feel?
They discovered that in recent decades, the degree of well-being perceived by men has been greater than that of women and has been systematically improving. However, on the feminine side occurs the opposite: in the 1990s, only 8.5% of the thirty-year-old women confessed feeling bad, today that figure rises to 20%. What’s going on?
Young women increasingly exhausted and stressed
The researchers deepened their study to discover what is compromising female well-being. The data indicate that today’s women are more anxious and dissatisfied with their economic condition than in the past, they bear greater pressure at work and feel crushed by the social expectations of success, proactivity and physical appearance.
In fact, the difficulties in reconciling work and private life continue to be one of the main causes of female suffering: women bear a greater burden of commitment, are more sensitive to personal conflicts at work and, if they strive to adapt, they run the risk of becoming even more exhausted.
We must not forget that, for biological reasons, women are more sensitive to stress than men. For hormonal reasons, areas of the brain related to emotional processing, such as the amygdala and the anterior cingulate gyrus, are more “sensitive” to stimuli that generate anxiety. If a stressful work, social and family environment is added to this, it is very likely that the woman will end up developing mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
In fact, it is estimated that approximately one third of women suffer a clinically significant level of anxiety and depression that affects their well-being. The researchers warn that this type of mental fatigue from the age of 30 not only increases the risk of suffering psychological problems but also other health difficulties, such as cardiovascular diseases, since women are particularly prone to somatize emotional problems.
Balance better and love more yourself
Men have, on average, 70 free minutes per day of commitments more than women. This means that women must learn to better balance professional and social life with the necessary moments of disconnection. We have to learn to say that we are not for anyone, because we need to be alone with ourselves.
We must remember that at age of 30 we can run and lead a stressful life because the body allows us to do it, but that fatigue will end up destroying us. Therefore, we must be aware that we do not have superpowers and we need to rest.
It is not simply about learning techniques to better manage stress, go to yoga or practice mindfulness meditation, but we must make a much deeper change. That change begins by not demanding too much and understanding that you have nothing to prove to anyone that is not yourself.
Lidström, M. et. Al. (2017) Time trends of comparative self-rated health in adults aged 25-34 in the Northern Sweden MONICA study, 1990-2014. PLoS ONE; 12(11): e0187896.