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Women and Stress

Stress & Physical Symptoms

We live in a much more chaotic world than our ancestors.  Thanks to technology and our future oriented culture, we are expected to manage more tasks in an hour than our grandparents handled in a day's work.  Woem, particularly, pride them themselves on being able to "multi-task" meeting the demands of work, relationships, and kids.  Many of us experience stress on such a regular basis we mistakenly think our bodies have become accustomed to the feeling.  You may be accustomed to the feeling, but let me assure you, your body is suffering the consequences!

Imagine an animal out in the wild about to be preyed upon.  The animal's natural instincts ignite a stress response.  All bodily functions not immediately needed including the immune system, digestive system, and metabolism (just to name a few) are put on hold.  All energy and biological resources are diverted to survival functions.  The stress response is intended to be brief and used in threatening circumstances.  Upon survival, wild animals return to a state of rest to allow the body to recover.

The stress response is not unique to wild animals.  In fact this biological phenomenon is experienced by humans.  When you are under stress (fear, pressure, overwhelmed) your body releases specific hormones and increases glucose levels for optimal energy.  If you are mindful of this change, you will notice increased heart rate, shorter more rapid brealthin, increased blood pressure, and racing thoughts.

The sometimes fatal difference in comparing our stress to the stress of wild animals is the recovery period.  How much down time do you give your body to rest and return to normal functioning?  If your response is "minimal time" to "no time", think about the effects this has on every inch of your body!

The following are red flags that you are exposing your body to too much stress:

  • Unhealthy Weight
  • Fatigue
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Digestive Issues
  • Skin Disorders and Rashes
  • Muscle Tension
  • Irritability

Anxiety & Depression

Stress comes in all different shapes and sizes ranging from healthy to chronic from situational to generalized.  However, it is always accompanied by either anxiety or depression...or both.

When you are experiencing anxiety, you are mentally too far into the future.  When you are experiencing depression, you are dwelling on the past.  It is being present in the here and now that brings peace of mind.

When you are feelin both anxious and depressed, the depression is typically a result of ongoing anxiety.  Anxiety is a reslut of worrying about potential future events that are out of our control.  The worry is so powerful, that it prevents us from recognizing the factors in our life that we can control.  Overtime, worrying about things out of our control leads to feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness...depression.

Anxiety is the number one mental health issue for American women.  It can impact strong, successful, intelligent women.  If you suffering from anqiety or depression, it is important to remember the anxiety and depression does not define who your are, they are simply a symptom of your experience.

Relationships and Stress

Why does it feel that in times of our highest points of stress our relationships sometimes take a turn for the worse and heighten the problem?  As if you didn't have enough going on, shouldn't you be able to count on your loved ones for support?  Couldn't your kids cut you a break for once?!

In times of stress we are often guilty of taking our relationships for granted.  Unlike other relationships in our lives, we know that if we act out towards our loved ones, they are likely to forgive us and will still be there tomorrow.

While this assumption is true in the short-term, our loved ones do have a boiling point.  Over time they will become less forgiving, less patient, and less tolerant.  Women who do not manage their stress levels may find themselves with damaged if not lost relationships.

In the event that our stress is directly related to important relationships, we must address the problem.  Remaining in an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship without resolution is toxic to our health.

Managing Stress

In order to manage stress, you must bring your stress level to a manageable level.  This may require significant commitment to change.  There are likely sacrifices (job promotion, alcohol, excessive shopping, unhealthy relationships) you will have to make in order to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself.  There may be people in your world that do not always value or support those sacrifices, but we have the opportunity to role model healthy choices for those around us.  What are you willing to sacrifice in order to protect your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing?

Upon making the decision to make your emotional wellbeing a priority it is important to acknowledge that change is a challenge and requires the braking of old habits.  It will require practice, practice, practice.  Changing negative thinking, relaxation, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and exercise are healthy practices for maintaining appropriate stress levels.

However, if stress has been an issue for you over a prolonged period of time, it may be necessary to seek professional help.  A therapist can assist you in understanding root causes of stress, provide a variety of tools and rsources to minimize stress, and create accountability for working through the challenging phases of change.  In contrast to friends and family, a professional therapist will offer an unbiased and non-judgmental enviornment to explore your stressors while protecting your confidentiality.  If you have not yet experienced the benefits of therapy or looking for a new therapist, please visit www.PamperYourMind.com today and treat yourself to the support you deserve.

The information on this website is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your physician.