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The mission of The Women's Initiative is to provide effective education, social support, and counseling services to empower women of all ages to transform challenging life situations into opportunities for personal growth and renewed well being. This mission is based on the understanding that:
? Challenging life events and the accumulative demands of daily living place women at risk for stress-related emotional problems and illness. Heart disease, diabetes and other diseases causing the highest mortality rates among women today are either directly caused or greatly exacerbated by the wear and tear of the stress response on the body. The most common mental health problems confronting women -- anxiety and depression -- are also linked to the impact of the stress response on the body.
? By raising awareness of the role the stress response plays in the major physical and emotional problems women face today, it is possible to empower women to take preventative action.
? Researched self-care and self-awareness skills are powerful tools available to women to reduce the impact of chronic stress and its toll on mental and physical health. Women may learn these skills in individual counseling sessions or in groups to reduce emotional distress, improve their health, enhance their relationships and parenting, and achieve greater satisfaction in their work lives.
? Social support is a proven means to improving women's physical and emotional well being. Educational programs and on-going groups foster a sense of community vital to women's personal growth.
Given that chronic stress is a major contributing factor to illness, anxiety, and depression, we will be promoting self-care skills that buffer the body and mind from the wear and tear of the stress response. We will also teach skills that promote emotional balance and positive interpersonal relationships. The following are examples of self-care skills:
The Relaxation Response
These skills are attractive for several reasons. They are easy to learn, free, and accessible to anyone interested in learning them. Many are rooted in ancient wisdom traditions and are now validated by science. There is no stigma attached to practicing them and no expert is required in order to receive their benefits. This is important in a community where many people cannot afford adequate medical or mental health services. Self-care skills can be a powerful prevention tool as well as a means to help people achieve better health, more satisfying relationships, and more rewarding work lives. By learning to use these skills in a collaborative group environment, people also receive the well-documented health benefits associated with social support.
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