How to Manage StressEveryone has stress. Even everyday events, such as planning a meal or making time for errands, can be stressful. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious. With all that women have going on in their various roles, it seems almost impossible to find ways to de-stress. But it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it. Let’s look at how stress affects women.

Women are more likely than men to report symptoms of stress, including headaches and an upset stomach. Women are also more likely to have mental health conditions that are made worse by stress, such as depression or anxiety.

What are some of the most common causes of stress?

Stress can arise for a variety of reasons. It can be brought about by a traumatic accident, death, or emergency, or be a side effect of a serious illness or disease. Stress is also associated with daily life, the workplace, and family responsibilities.

Sometimes we have short-term stress, the kind that hits us when we get lost while driving or when we miss the bus. Other times, we face long-term pressure, such as racial discrimination, a life-threatening illness, or divorce, which can also affect your health on many levels. Long-term stress can increase your risk for some health problems, like depression. Both short- and long-term stress can have effects on your body.

What are some early signs of how stress affects women?

Stress can take on many different forms and can contribute to symptoms of illness. Common symptoms include:

  • headache
  • sleep disorders
  • difficulty concentrating
  • short temper
  • upset stomach
  • job dissatisfaction
  • low morale
  • depression
  • anxiety

How can I handle my stress?

Don’t let stress make you sick. Women tend to carry a higher burden of stress than they should. Often, they aren’t even aware of stress levels. Tune into your body, so you know when stress is affecting your health.

Here are ways to handle your stress:

Relax. It’s important to unwind. Some methods include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. If you can’t do these things, take a few minutes to sit, listen to music you love, or read a book.

Make time for yourself. It’s important to care for yourself. Think of this as a doctor’s order, so you don’t feel guilty. No matter how busy you are, you can try to set aside at least 15 minutes each day in your schedule to do something for yourself, like taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, or calling a friend.

Sleep. Sleeping is a great way to help both your body and mind. Your stress could get worse if you don’t get enough sleep. Also, your body can’t fight off illness as well when you are sleep deprived. With enough sleep, you can tackle your problems better and lower your risk of illness. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

Set limits. When it comes to things like work and family, figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in the day—set limits with yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests for your time and energy.

Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Good sources of protein can be peanut butter, chicken, or fish. Eat whole grains, such as wheat bread and wheat crackers. Don’t be fooled by the buzz you get from caffeine or sugar. That type of energy will wear off and leave you feeling worse than you started.

Get moving. Believe it or not, getting physical activity not only helps relieve your tense muscles but also helps your mood. Your body creates certain chemicals, called endorphins, before and after you work out. Endorphins relieve stress and improve your mood.

Talk to a professional. Get help from a professional if you need it. Talk to a therapist or your medical doctor. A therapist can help you work through stress and find better ways to deal with problems. A medical doctor can also help you deal with your stress symptoms.

Resources:

Office on Women’s Health – https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/good-mental-health/stress-and-your-health

Healthy Women – https://www.healthywomen.org/condition/stress

American Psychological Association – https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2010/gender-stress

Do you live in Northwest Arkansas and need a healthcare provider? Call Creekside Center for Women at 479582.9268 to schedule an appointment with our friendly, caring staff.