Stress can affect anyone at any time. Men, women and even children experience stress, which can be triggered by professional, personal and social pressures.
Though anyone can experience stress, the pandemic illustrated how some people could be more vulnerable to it than others. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated heightened stress among women related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That echoes findings from a 2016 study published in The Journal of Brain & Behavior that reported women are twice as likely to suffer from severe stress and anxiety as men.
Chronic stress has been linked to various long-term health issues. That includes some side effects, such as menstrual problems, that are exclusive to women. In addition, women confronting stress may turn to various unhealthy coping strategies, such as over-consumption of alcohol, drug use and overeating, compounding the negative effects of stress.
Women who are feeling stressed out can look to various healthy ways to alleviate stress. The Canadian Mental Health Association says women are more likely to report stress than men.
Make a concerted effort to socialize.
An inability to socialize during the pandemic undoubtedly contributed to increased stress levels, and that’s not coincidental. Socializing can increase a hormone that decreases anxiety levels and helps individuals feel more confident in their ability to cope with stress. Socializing also provides a chance to direct energy outward, thus providing a distraction from internal stress.
Make time to exercise.
Exercise benefits the body in myriad ways and can be an effective tool in the fight against stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the ways exercise helps to combat stress is that it imitates the fight or flight response created by stressful situations and essentially teaches the body how to work through stress. Much like practice prepares athletes’ bodies prior to a game, exercise prepares the body to respond to stress in a healthy way.
Perform good deeds.
The American Addiction Centers notes the power of goodwill in combatting stress. When helping others, individuals activate neurotransmitters in their brains that are associated with positive feelings and reduced feelings of anxiety and worry. Volunteering with a local nonprofit, coaching a child’s sports team and mentoring a young person are some good deeds that can benefit others and the women behind the acts.
Embrace an optimistic outlook.
A 2013 study from researchers at Concordia University found that the stress hormone cortisol is more stable among individuals with a positive outlook than those with a more pessimistic point of view. Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can increase risk for anxiety, depression and heart disease, among other conditions. An optimistic outlook can help control those levels, making a positive attitude a valuable tool in the fight against stress.
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