Mrs. Singh was a working woman who wanted to venture out into something new after her husband suffered a stroke. It was imperative to keep the home fires burning as her husband was unable to manage his enterprise after his illness. The resources were dwindling as he relied more on his employees who reported negative growth. They had realised that he was not going to recover from such a bad stroke and may not live long enough too. The husband’s apprehension that he was being cheated by his own men was turning out to be true. The family decided that the business would close down eventually and Mrs. Singh would have to do something to keep meeting the expenses. She had suddenly too much on her hands- her children were in their teens and had their own axe to grind, her husband being almost bed-ridden had his own tantrums and agonies, she had her job and was trying to put her mind to a new venture. All this was too much, not only for her mind but her body as well. She began to lose weight, lose sleep, a sense of fatigue gripped her at all times, and an anxiety about the future made her nervous. She tried mustering all her courage and mental resources but the situation was telling on her. Her visits to the physician became frequent as she began to develop different types of symptoms such as headaches, pain in the body, sense of weakness and a listless feeling. She was going into a depression but was essentially stressed out with the burden of handling matters at all fronts. It was too much to handle singly she declared. Physical stress is real when you do not get rest and have been burdened with work that your body cannot take any more.
A working woman told me that she woke up at 4 am to prepare breakfast for her in-laws and also for her school going children. After the children left for school she tried taking a nap for an hour before she started the day in full swing. Then there was no respite as she had her hands full. She could go to bed at midnight after 12 because her husband came home late, ate his dinner, she had to clean up and then hit the bed. Till she was young she was able to do with less sleep and could do with snatching bits of sleep whenever possible but now with age progressing she was unable to cope with her bodily stress. She had also developed recently anaemia for which she was being treated. This forced her to take days off from her work and take rest. Physical stress was beginning to step in and she had to take note of it.
There is a popular adage that ‘no one dies of hard work’. That is very true but has to be looked into from a proper perspective. Einstein said ‘genius is ninety percent perspiration and ten percent inspiration’. This simply means that no one can get away from sweating it out and doing hard work to achieve something in life. And no one actually dies of hard work, if at all, people can die of boredom and inactivity. The worst form of stress is seen in people who are unemployed or under-employed and have nothing to do or achieve. People who are working and achieving their goals are the happiest and satisfied. But the point to understand is the fact that there is a limit to human stamina and endurance. There is a limit to how many hours a normal human being, free of disease, can work without rest and sleep. And the capacity of people with some form of chronic ailment, such as asthma, limb disabilities, orthopaedic disabilities or other handicaps will get limited. The capacity for hard work is never infinite. It has its limitations and that is what each individual needs to understand and manage. ‘To each his own’ is the best adage. The physical stressors need to be identified and managed before it damages you.
In such crisis situations as mentioned above the family needs to be together in all ways to understand each other’s problems, limitations and share the work load with empathy. The spouse, as well as, children should be put to work for sharing of responsibilities which should not be dumped on one person alone. Even a rock has a limited capacity which is called ‘restoration force’. When the external force is greater than the internal force then the object is imbalanced, displaced or shattered. The human being is after all a living object! That too with emotions!