Life presents unknown obstacles constantly. When our ability to cope with an event or circumstances is outside of our scope often times the stressful event becomes a traumatic event. Stress is scientifically considered an experience or circumstance that can be coped with. But without the knowledge of how to cope or the realization that you are in fact stressed out, how can you truly cope?
This article is going to go into detail about what stress does to women specifically and how you can begin taking steps towards coping and identifying your stress before it becomes a chronic condition.
What are stress related symptoms?
There are many symptoms of stress and each individual will react differently to stress. Differences will be dependent on many individual factors such as; environment, race, socioeconomic status, social support, genetics, overall health etc.
Common symptoms of stress in women include:
Physical. Headaches, difficulty sleeping, tiredness, pain (most commonly in the back and neck), overeating/under eating, skin problems, drug and alcohol misuse, lack of energy, upset stomach, less interest in sex/other things you used to enjoy.
Emotional. Anxiety, depression, anger, unhappiness, irritability, feelings of being out of control, mood swings, frustration.
Mental. Forgetfulness, worry, can’t make decisions, negative thinking, lack of focus, boredom.
Occupational. Work overload, long hours, tense relations, poor concentration, unfulfilling job.
Social. Less intimacy, isolation, family problems, loneliness.
Spiritual. Apathy, loss of meaning, emptiness, unforgiving, doubt, guilt, despair.
How does stress affect a woman’s health over time (chronic)?
Heart problems. Stress increases blood pressure, heart palpitations, heart arrythmia, and heart rate.
Headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are more common in women than men.
Eating Disorder Women are more prone to stress-related weight gain than men. They are also more likely to stop eating and reduce their nutritional intake due to stress.
Bowel problems. Stress can lead to such bowel problems as irritable bowel syndrome.
Pregnancy issues. Women with higher stress levels have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women with lower stress levels.
Menstrual problems. Premenstrual syndrome is more severe with increasing stress levels.
How can women better manage stress?
Women can manage stress by practicing healthy self-care strategies for coping with stress. Examine your negative stress signs in each of these six life areas: physical, emotional, mental, occupational, social, and spiritual. What would you like to be different in your life? What do you need to do to achieve more balance or potential? Here are some suggestions.
Physical. Exercise, practice relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, listen to relaxing music), eat healthy, schedule leisure time, get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours/night).
Emotional. Express your emotions, repeat positive emotions, work toward a healthy self-esteem.
Mental. Have a positive outlook, realistic thinking, resilient attitude, be creative.
Occupational. Establish doable goals, identify home-work balance, set limits.
Social. Strive to maintain loving relationships, establish healthy boundaries, stay connected with friends.
Spiritual. Find your meaning/purpose, focus on gratitude, stay in the present moment.
Do not think you need to make all these changes now start small. Stress reduction is about longevity by starting small with one thing at a time you are far more likely to maintain that practice in your life. If you attempt to change to many things at once you are more likely to feel a sense of overwhelm and go back to old patterns of behavior.
A personal wellness plan with goals can be helpful. If the idea of creating this plan seems overwhelming let’s chat, I would be happy to support you! It is never too late or too early to start taking care of yourself. Goal setting can seem overwhelming. These practical steps can get you started.
Review life areas. Examine the six life areas for potential change.
Identify goals. Be aware of what needs to be done and set goals.
Be specific. Know what you want to accomplish.
Set measurable targets. Move in the right direction.
Be realistic. Set smaller goals that are achievable.
Identify resources. Use helpful resources to reduce potential problems.
Set time limits. Consider reasonable, specific time limits.
Evaluate progress. Make changes as needed
Women will continue to experience stress in their lives. A personal wellness plan with built-in periods of recovery and self-care can help women manage stress and empower themselves to make healthy life changes.
Stress can be coped with, although it may not always seem that way. If you are unhappy and overwhelmed do not wait to make necessary changes you deserve to feel joy and ease in your life!