Despite the advancements in freedom and employment opportunities for women, research indicates that they are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances compared to earlier times. This paradox of progress raises questions about the factors influencing women’s wellbeing and happiness. This article explores the reasons behind this paradox and provides evidence-based strategies for young women to prioritize their wellbeing.
The Gender Wellbeing Gap:
Women across different countries and age groups are facing increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and sleep issues, despite societal advances. The American Psychological Association conducted a recent survey, revealing that many women are unhappy with how society treats them. Women often bear the burden of caregiving for children and elderly relatives while also managing the home and work responsibilities. Additionally, workplace discrimination in the form of bullying, sexual harassment, and verbal abuse further contributes to their dissatisfaction.
The Resilience of Women:
While the gender wellbeing gap widened during the pandemic, women exhibited greater emotional resilience. This resilience can be attributed to stronger social networks and connections. Research suggests that women score higher than men in positive relationships and personal growth. Women tend to seek support sooner, enabling them to overcome adversity faster. Their friendships are more intimate, involving face-to-face interactions that provide emotional support, compared to men’s friendships, which often revolve around shared activities.
Finding Purpose in Life:
Although women may not experience as much happiness in the moment as men, they often report having more purpose in their lives. Having a sense of meaning and purpose is associated with better health and longer life expectancy. This purpose is often derived from engaging in altruistic activities, such as supporting others and volunteering for charities. Cultural norms that encourage women to prioritize the needs of others play a role in fostering this sense of purpose.
Strategies for Wellbeing:
Given the challenges women face, it is crucial for young women to prioritize their wellbeing. Here are four evidence-based strategies to help young women protect their mental and physical health:
1. Embrace Therapy:
Creating a safe space for self-expression and emotional exploration is essential for psychological wellbeing. Art-based therapies and group interventions that allow women to openly communicate with other women can reduce feelings of stigma and shame.
2. Connect with Nature:
Spending time outdoors in natural settings can be comforting and healing, particularly for women who have experienced trauma or illness. Women often feel a natural connection to the world, reflecting their nurturing and life-giving tendencies. Incorporating activities like beach walks, forest runs, or reading in the park can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing.
3. Engage in Physical Activity:
Regular physical activity has numerous benefits for women’s wellbeing. It increases self-acceptance, personal growth, and cognitive health as women age. High-impact exercises like jumping and running improve bone health in middle-aged women, while moderate exercise such as walking can alleviate symptoms of menopause.
4. Moderate Alcohol Consumption:
Women face specific risks related to alcohol, including an increased vulnerability to violence, as well as health issues like heart disease and breast cancer. Given women’s higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption can significantly improve their health and happiness.
Despite the progress in women’s rights and opportunities, they continue to face challenges that impact their wellbeing. The paradox of progress reminds us that societal advancements do not automatically translate into happiness and contentment. Young women must prioritize their mental and physical health by seeking therapy, connecting with nature, engaging in physical activity, and moderating alcohol consumption. By taking care of themselves, they can navigate the complexities of modern life and strive for a more fulfilling and balanced existence.