An Ob/Gyn Tells Why Women Don't Say No!

In Skincare Advice & Articles by Dr Bollmann's 0 comments

Understanding and Reducing Stress in Women: An OB-GYN's Perspective

Empathy and Counseling: Key Tools for Women's Health

As an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), I've had the privilege of providing not just medical care, but also counseling to countless women throughout my career. Through these interactions, I've gained valuable insights into the unique stressors women face and developed strategies to help them manage and reduce stress.

The Challenge: Women and the Inability to Say "No"

One common theme that emerges time and again is women's difficulty in saying "no" when it comes to pleasing others. This often leads to overcommitment, overwhelm, and chronic stress.

In my practice, I've heard countless women describe their daily lives filled with an endless list of responsibilities: caring for children, managing households, fulfilling work obligations, and meeting the needs of their partners. While these are all valid and essential tasks, the problem arises when women feel compelled to take on additional, often unnecessary, commitments.

The Consequences: Overwhelm and Chronic Stress

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that women are more likely than men to experience high levels of stress, with 28% of women reporting extreme stress compared to 20% of men. This chronic stress can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health, contributing to conditions like heart disease, depression, and anxiety.

Why Women Struggle to Say “No"

There are several factors at play, including societal expectations, gender roles, and a desire to be helpful and accommodating - frequently ignoring the constraints of time.

John Gray, author of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," offers a compelling analogy to illustrate this phenomenon. At a seminar I attended, he explained that women can’t ignore the little things the way men do. The demonstration he gave was elucidating. On the stage, there was a large stuffed reclining chair. While he was speaking, he walked in a circle around the stage with a box of Kleenex, systematically pulling out one at a time and throwing them on the floor of the stage, ending with Kleenex strewn all over.

 When a man comes through the door of the house, he immediately sees the chair and goes right for it, reclines, and gets out the remote for the TV, completely ignoring all the Kleenex.

When a woman comes through the door, she ignores the chair and immediately sees the Kleenex, and proceeds to pick up each and every tissue. Dr. Gray said she ignores the chair because it reminds her too much of childbirth - which created a lot of laughter.

The Impact of Societal Expectations

 Societal expectations play a significant role. Women are often conditioned from a young age to be caregivers and pleasers, prioritizing the needs of others over their own. This can make it difficult to assert boundaries and decline requests, even when those requests add unnecessary stress to their lives.

Strategies for Reducing Stress: Learning to Say "No"

To effectively reduce stress, women need to learn the art of saying "no." This involves recognizing their limits, setting boundaries, and prioritizing their own well-being. It also requires challenging societal expectations and embracing the notion that it's okay to prioritize self-care.

Prioritizing and Categorizing Tasks

One practical approach is to categorize tasks as essential, important, or "it would be nice to do." By eliminating the latter category when necessary, women can free up valuable time and energy for activities that truly matter.

Empowering Women to Prioritize Well-being

Empowering women to prioritize their well-being is crucial for reducing stress and promoting overall health. As an OB-GYN, I encourage my patients to prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and learn to say "no" when necessary. By doing so, they can reclaim their time, energy, and ultimately, their health.


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