If you are feeling stressed out lately, join the crowd. With today's hectic lifestyles it seems to become harder and harder to stay calm and relaxed. Not only do our everyday activities stress us out but many of us are dealing with other peripheral factors such as illnesses and family problems. If you happen to be a woman, well then - how many hats do you wear? Spouse, mother, friend, caregiver, co-worker, cook, housekeeper, household business manager, soccer mom, single mom; not to mention the other activities and organizations that you may be a part of ~~~ and the list goes on!
With all that we have going on in our lives, finding ways to 'de-stress' may seem impossible. However, it is very important to find ways to relax ~ your health depends on it.
Women's Reactions to Stress
While we all deal with stressful things like job issues, disagreements with spouses, traffic and other issues, there has been research to show that women handle stress in a very unique way ~ women 'tend' and 'befriend'.
~ Tend: Women protect and care for their children and other loved ones.
~ Befriend: Women seek out and receive social and emotional support (you know the girlfriend that you can call and just bear your soul to..)
We have also learned that our bodies produce certain chemicals that are believed to promote these responses. Oxytocin which has a calming effect during stress and the hormone estrogen, which boosts the effects of oxytocin. Just a Note: Men on the other hand have high levels of testosterone during stress which blocks the effects of oxytocin and causes hostility, withdrawal and anger (that explains it ladies).
How Stress Affects Your Entire Body
Understand that we all have stress at times. We may have short term stress with everyday events such as making time for errands, planning meals, dealing with homework, running late for work; this kind of stress generally makes us feel worried or anxious.
And then there are other times where we may be facing long-term stress such as chronic disease, life-threatening illness, disability and even divorce. These very stressful events may affect our health on many different levels.
Both short-term and long-term stress is very real and can also increase your risk of other health problems such as depression. Research continues to identify the serious effects of stress on our bodies. Stress tends to trigger changes in our bodies and is very likely to make us sick or make the problems we already have much worse.
Look at These Problems that may be Triggered by Stress ~~
- Weight gain or loss
- Problems sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Less sexual desire
- Heart problems/High Blood Pressure
- Stomach Problems
The list goes on....
Stressful Life Events
Any change in our lives can be stressful, even some of happiest events (like having a baby or getting a new job) can be stressful. According to Holmes and Rahe Scale of Life Events 1967, listed below are some of life's most stressful events. You have probably experienced one or more of them in your lifetime.
- Birth of a child
- Death of a spouse
- Spending time in jail
- Death of a close family member
- Marital separation
- Personal illness or injury
Stress Will Make You Sick if You Let It
As women we tend to carry more than our share of stress. Most of the time we are not even aware of our stress levels. We must learn to listen to our bodies so that we can know when stress is affecting our health. Here are some tips to help you manage and handle your stress.
RELAX (easy said, right?) It's important to unwind. Find 'your' best way to relax. You might try deep breathing, meditation, getting or getting a massage. Other ways include listening to soothing music or reading a book; just find whatever works for you.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF (Some 'ME' Time)It's important to take care of yourself. Regardless of how busy you are or think you may be try to set aside at least 15-30 minutes each day (schedule it in your PDA or Daytimer); take a bubble bath, take a walk, call a friend ~ just sit with you eyes closed and meditate; talk to your Heavenly Father.
Sleeping is a great way to help both your body and your mind.
Fueling up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the way to go.
Physical activity not only help relieve your tense muscles, but helps your mood as well.
TALK TO FRIENDS
Friends are good listeners. Having someone that will allow you to talk freely about your problems without being judgmental really does a world of good. True friends will also remind you that you are not alone.
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT
Believe me, it's OK. Talking to a therapist can help you work through stress and also help you find better ways to deal with problems. Many times there may be underlying issues that you are not aware of.
WRITE DOWN YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you ever sent an email to a friend about the terrible day that you had or how the kids are driving you crazy or you just can't get your spouse to understand why you need a new dining room table? Did you feel better afterward? OK then, get a pen and paper and start writing down what's going on in your life. Many people find that keeping a journal is a great way to get thinks off their chest and to help them work through everyday issues.
Helping others can help you. Volunteer with church and community activities.
AVOID UNHEALTHY WAYS OF DEALING WITH STRESS
This includes using drugs, drinking too much, smoking or overeating.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
When it comes to things like work and family, decide what you can really do. Set limits for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to say 'NO' to requests for your time and energy.
Step Back, Relax, Refresh ~ Maintain a Healthy Balance~Don't Let Stress Control Your Life.
To Your Continued Health and Success!