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When it comes to worry and stress: Women lead the way

Do you suffer from self-imposed stress?

Do you suffer from self-imposed stress?

[by Dean Smith] A poll commissioned by Kalms Herbal discovered that 20% of women feel stressed on a daily basis as they try to manage work and home life.

The survey asked 2000 people from Britain aged 25 to 50 how stressed they were, what caused it and how they dealt with stress. The study had one major conclusion: on almost every front women feel stress more than men.

The survey found:

  • 20% of women suffer stress on nearly a daily basis (21% said six times a week). This compares to just 10% for men.
  • 42% of women and 31% of men said they found it difficult to fit in work and life schedules.
  • One of the pressure points for women was leaving for work on time — 20% of women cited this as a problem compared to only 13% for men.
  • One of the symptoms of a stressed life involved sleep where 36% of respondents said stress causes them to lose sleep while 32% said they found it difficult to fall asleep. 12% admitted to waking up having a panic attack.
  • Over a third of respondents (36%) said work and personal life was equally stressful.

However, what I found most intriguing in the Daily Mail article was the discussion on self-imposed stress. This relates to stress we create largely by comparing ourselves to others.

Speaking on behalf of Kalms Herbal, spokesperson Sophia Davis said that women in particular tend to compare themselves with others and through this process create a performance level they are supposed to meet.

Davis cited three stats from the poll which fall into this category:

  • 39% cited keeping the house tidy as a self-imposed stress area.
  • 27% said spending time with the family as another self-imposed stress point, and
  • 21% cited completing do it yourself jobs.

Worried, stressed and distracted

We have an interesting story in the Gospels about stress. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus visited the home of Martha and Mary. Their home was located in a village near Jerusalem and Jesus visited it on many occasions.

The family is made up of three siblings, Martha, Mary and Lazarus — the parents who aren’t mentioned are probably dead. By the size of their home, which could handle Jesus and His disciples, they seemed well off and since Martha welcomed Jesus into their home, she was probably the oldest and family leader.

Martha busied herself preparing the house for their guests — Luke says Martha was “distracted with all her preparations.”

Meanwhile Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. This was a place commonly reserved for disciples. It was also a position reserved for men. Mary was breaking from the expectations and traditions of her day and choosing to be a disciple in a world where only men were supposed to be disciples.

We are not sure what annoyed Martha more — the fact Mary was not helping or the fact her younger sister was taking such a privileged position at Jesus’ feet.

Frustrated, Martha asked Jesus to tell Mary to get to work.

Jesus said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NASV).

Jesus used two words to describe Martha’s condition — worried and bothered.

The word worried (Greek ‘merimnao’) means to be anxious or concerned. Martha was trying to make an impression on Jesus and His disciples by having an impeccable house with a well-prepared meal. She had a picture in her mind of how this event should come off and she was determined to meet this self-imposed expectation.  In some ways, she was secretly hoping to impress this famous Rabbi with her preparations.

The word bothered (turbazo) is derived from the word “turba” which means crowd or an uproar. The word is translated in some Bible versions as distracted. It talks of a person being bombarded by multiple tasks. A distracted person flutters from one task to the next usually only half finishing one before moving on. It describes a person consumed by the need for perfection, every detail must be perfect.

But, Mary had chosen a different route. Instead of choosing to impress and the stress it brought with it, she was choosing to be a disciple.

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