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Continuous stress can increase the risk of long-term health problems like stroke and heart attack. Selecting the right methods to relieve stress is very vital for women.
Stress has been connected with numerous chronic diseases of the heart and brain.
Research recommends that women might feel the symptoms of stress more or get more of the symptoms of stress than men.
What is Stress?
Stress is how the body responds to particular circumstances, like sudden danger or long-term challenge.
In the course of stressful events, the body releases chemical hormones, called adrenaline. Adrenaline provides a rush of energy that helps to cope and respond to stress.
As an example, one type of stress is the shock you may feel when a car yanks out in front of you. This rush of adrenaline helps you swiftly hit the brakes to prevent an accident.
What are some Symptoms of Stress?
Stress affects each person in a different way. Certain ways that long-term stress affects women include:
- Pain, comprising back pain
- Acne, rashes. or hives
- Upset stomach
- Lack of focus
- Appetite problems: either eating too much or too little
- Easily angered, moody
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Trouble sleeping
- Less interest in sex than usual
What Causes Stress?
People can feel stress from various different things. Common causes of short-term stress may include:
- Getting stuck in traffic
- A fight with your partner or spouse
- Money issues
- A deadline at work
Long term stress, which is affects health much more severely can include any of the following:
1. Poverty and Financial Worries
Women whose families live below the poverty line might suffer from depression. Women in poverty who care for children or other family members, as well as themselves, may feel more severe stress.
Women are at a higher risk for discrimination, like gender discrimination at work. Women can also experience discrimination related to their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.
3. Traumatic events
Experiencing trauma, like being in disaster or an accident or going through physical, emotional, or sexual assault or abuse as a child or an adult, might put an individual at greater risk of depression.
Effects of Stress on Woman’s Mind and Body
While men and women can react equally in most of the situations, stressful or otherwise, there does seem to be a certain difference in how men and women respond to stress.
Although, the particular mechanisms aren’t clear, and results are contradictory, some research recommends that differences in the body and brain might make women more emotionally and physically sensitive to some types of stress.
Everyday hugs from a partner can raise the levels of oxytocin and reduce the levels of blood pressure in women. Research has also stated that women who have positive contact with a spouse or partner prior to a stressful situation show decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and heart rates.
How Does Stress Affect a Woman’s Health?
Certain health effects of stress are equal for both men and women. For instance, stress can lead to sleep issues and weaker immune systems. However, there are also other ways that stress affects women.
Headaches and Migraines
When the body is stressed, the muscles tense up. Long-term tension can cause migraine, headache, and general body pains and aches. Tension-type headaches are common in women.
Depression and Anxiety
Women are more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
High-stress levels can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can cause serious heart diseases in women which can lead to stroke and heart attacks.
Younger women with a medical history of heart problems particularly might be at risk of the negative effects of stress on the heart.
Short-term stress can lead to stomach problems like vomiting or diarrhea. Long-term stress can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that is twice as common in women as in men.
The connection between stress and weight gain is stronger for women than for men. Stress raises the amount of a hormone in the body called cortisol that might lead to overeating and cause the body to store fat.
Problems in Conceiving
Women with greater levels of stress are more possible to have difficulties getting pregnant than women with lesser levels of stress. Moreover, not being able to get pregnant when you want to can be a cause of stress.
Menstrual Cycle Issues
Women who experience chronic or long-term stress might have more severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms or irregular periods. Some studies relate past trauma or abuse to more severe PMS.
Decreased Sex Drive
Women with long-term stress might take longer to get stimulated and may have low sex drive than women with decreased levels of stress. A study found that women with greater stress levels were more distracted in the course of sex than other women.
How Can Women Lower Stress Levels?
An important stress management strategy women can follow is planning or anticipating what’s going to stress you out and keeping the tools in place to bring down the tension. Below are a few tips for managing stress:
- Improve your diet. Eat well-balanced meals and avoid junk food. This can improve your physical well-being as well as emotional health.
- Make time for exercise. This can increase hormones and neurochemicals which improve your mood.
- Find fun methods to relax like connecting with friends and family or people you enjoy being around. Other general stress-busters comprise meditation, yoga, and tai chi.
How Can Women Manage Stress?
Each person has to deal with stress at some point in their lives. Take steps to help handle stress in an optimistic way:
1. Take Deep Breaths
This allows you to breathe gentler and aids your muscles to relax. The extra oxygen releases a message to the brain to relax and calm the body.
When taking deep breaths it’s important to remember to do is slowly. Taking deep breaths too quickly can cause hyperventilation and possibly lead to a panic attack.
Stretching can also aid ease the muscles and make you feel less tense. Consider taking up yoga as a hobby.
3. Write Your Thoughts
Maintaining a journal or simply writing down the things you are thankful for can aid you handle stress.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Many adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel revitalized. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sleep patterns such as biphasic sleep.
5. Eat right
Caffeine or high-sugar foods give you lots of energy that wear off rapidly. As a substitute, eat foods with B vitamins, like fish, bananas, avocados, dark green leafy vegetables and chicken.
6. Get moving
Physical activity can relax the muscles and enhance the mood. Physical activity also may aid in relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
7. Talk to family or friends
They might help you see your problems in different ways and advice solutions. Also, it might make you feel better by sharing your thoughts.
8. Help others
Volunteering in your community can make you feel good about helping others.
Unfortunately, stress is often a staple in most of the women’s lives, however, many are ignorant of the intense impact that it can have on their general health and wellbeing.
Don’t deal the stress in unhealthy ways like using drugs, drinking too much alcohol, overeating or smoking. Try replacing these with healthier ways to cope, like exercising, spending time with friends and family, or finding a new hobby.
To conclude, if you feel disturbed by stress and its effects, talk to your doctor about methods to deal with it. You may learn a new approach for managing stress on your own, or you might find that therapy with a mental health professional will better aid you to get it all under control.
Sources & Additional Reading:
1. American Psychological Association: Stress by Gender: 2012
2. Refinery29: Here’s How Being Broke Can Impact Your Mental Health