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Stress Distress

The pressure of work is taking a toll on my body,but I still cannot think of giving it all up.

It was a very hectic week at work. With Budget Session of the Assembly on in many states,we had to put in extra work to ensure adequate coverage. While this was nothing unusual for a newspaper office,it was for the first time in my 11-years career that I found it tough to cope with the increased pressure.

Carrying a fatigued pregnant body,I was heavily stressed out. Long hours spent sitting in front of the computer,without the mandatory walking and stretching breaks as prescribed by my doctor,took a heavy toll on my already sore back. My head would reel and the heavy feet refused to move. Climbing the 50-odd stairs to reach my third-floor flat seemed an uphill task,quite literally. One night,after wrapping up the day’s work,as I got up from my chair,a shooting pain in the lower abdomen scared me to no end. While I somehow managed to walk up to the car,after a much awaited trip to the washroom,reaching home was a more difficult task. As I tried to lie down,contemplating calling up the doctor,the pain subsided a little. I was later told it was all due to gas because I had been sitting at one place for a long time.

The ensuing long weekend was what kept me going. While I am off duty on Fridays and Saturdays,the festival of Holi made my Sunday and I got a three-day break,which I think I needed now more than ever.

As I rested at home and nursed my back,my well-wishers were back with their pet advice: “Give your professional life a break.” The day my mother had heard the ‘good news’,her first few words were: “Now,leave your job for some time,at least till the first trimester is over.” I had to fight with her,making her understand that times have changed and I really did not have to stop working. With my doctor also making it clear that she did not want me to leave job,it became easier to stick to my plan — I hope to continue working till I can,and make most of the maternity leave by spending time with the baby. But the chorus of “leave your job” started again last week,and I found myself fumbling for words to convince them.

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After all the hard work I put in to build my career,I really don’t want to compromise on it due to the pregnancy. It was not a cakewalk,after all. Living in a tiny town in Bihar (now in Jharkhand),which produced few career women during our time,I had a tough time breaking the shackles,fighting lack of exposure,a good education background and an environment conducive to a holistic growth. Studying in a Hindi medium school,I had to go out of my way to learn English,which hampered my overall academic performance. Jhumri Telaiya was advanced enough to provide education to girls (if they remained unmarried after school) till the graduation and post-graduation levels,but there was no option for professional courses,even for boys. Hence,it was another battle to find the right path to pursue my dream — to become a journalist. I will be devastated if all that struggle goes waste.

Emotional reasons apart,financial feasibility also needs to be factored in while going the family way,with expenses staring at you. Sitting at home means either quitting the job or going without pay. It’s not that my husband cannot afford me,but the household is used to double income and our lifestyle will definitely suffer if I don’t work. After having led a comfortable life for so long,my conscience will not allow me to ration comforts for the new member we are bringing into this world.

The pressure of work is taking a toll on my body,but I still cannot think of giving it all up. I believe it will be more damaging if I have to choose between a hard and productive day at work and an easy but non-productive day at home. Besides,after a tough day at work,I have a home to go back to. Where will I go after a depressing,lonely day at home?

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But it will be a lie if I say I never weighed the option of taking a break. The idea came to my mind several times last week. But the long weekend served the purpose and I am all ready to face a working week again.

I would,however,like to make it clear that whatever I said here is entirely my personal opinion and I don’t advise anybody to follow this. If staying away from job-related stress makes you feel better,you should go ahead by all means. My pregnancy guide says if the mom-to-be handles such a situation in a mature way,there is nothing better for the baby,but in case of adverse effects on the mother,leading to weight loss and other grave physical problems,you need to take a decision,after consulting your doctor,of course.

As far as coping with stress is concerned,here are a few tips (from the same guidebook) that helped me and may come in handy for you too:

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Talk it out: Find somebody who can relate to your problem and talk your heart out. I always get that support from my husband. Since we work in the same office,he understands all the problems and hears me out with patience.

Find something to distract you: I love to browse through websites on newborns. Spending time with children is also considered a great stress-reliever. My sister gave birth to a baby boy last month and one look at his photographs brings a smile on my face and makes me forget all my problems.

Read,shop and pamper yourself: Feeling low? Grab your favourite author’s book. Nothing else can cheer you up in a better way,unless of course if you think shopping will be a better option. I went to a Thai spa and gave myself a therapeutic pedicure. It gave my feet new strength to carry the bulky baggage,i.e. me,with new zeal.

Try these too: Take a walk,watch a movie,listen to music. Besides,there is always the tried and tested method of a warm bath. I consider cooking,and eating,another great way to de-stress myself.

First published on: 21-03-2011 at 12:07 IST
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