Beat Stress Now!
It's everywhere, and sometimes—oftentimes—it seems impossible to escape. Now, relax and take a deep breath: Here's how to manage stress in four key areas of your life.
Think, for a moment, of Betty Draper, the outwardly perfect wife and mother played by January Jones on Mad Men: She's beautiful, she's glamorous—and, oh, by the way, she keeps a lovely home and raises three young kids and always seems ready for a romp in the hay with her ad-man husband, Don. She's also completely, totally stressed out. (And she's got a nanny!) Betty may be an anachronism, but whether it's the 1960s on TV or real life in 2010, women always place a very high value on the romantic relationships in their lives. "Women put tremendous pressure on themselves to be the perfect wife, or the perfect mother, and are trying to live up to not only society's standards but their own internal standards," says Pieracci. "And they usually fall short because their standards are unrealistically high." By nature, women are nurturing and pay more attention to relationships than men do. On top of that, women are usually responsible for taking care of the home and taking care of the kids—even if they have intense, full-time jobs. And that means they may have the equivalent of two full-time jobs, which doesn't leave a lot of time, or energy, for romance. Here's how to ensure that romantic relationships remain a source of joy, not a source of stress.
Stop thinking in terms of quantity and start thinking in terms of quality. So: What kind of jobs can you hand off to others in order to spend more time with your significant other? If you can have someone clean your house, says Allen-Davis, that will "allow you to focus the few waking hours you have on your family and yourself, and will enhance your time at home."
Even something as simple as doing something nice (writing a love note, taking out the trash without having to be asked, making breakfast) for your partner every day helps. "Whether it's a genuine compliment or scheduling a dinner and getting a babysitter—those little things can really go a long way," says Pieracci. "And if one partner does it, then the other is more likely to start reciprocating."
MAINTAIN THAT ORIGINAL SPARK
Passion waxes and wanes, but intimacy is important in every romantic relationship. One of the most common reasons women visit their gynecologists is for sexual dysfunction. "We mistake sexual intercourse with intimacy, and they are very different. As relationships mature, that intimacy becomes much, much more important to keep the sexual part alive," says Allen-Davis.