More Women Experiencing Stress in Daily Life

Lifestyle changes can help alleviate pressure

Bolinkjar HSOur bodies were made to respond to stress. Short-term stress can give women that extra push through a difficult situation or that burst of energy needed to finish a difficult task.

Chronic stress, however, can take a significant toll on a woman’s mental and physical health. According to the National Psychological Association (NPA), women are more likely than men to report that their stress levels are on the rise. Nearly half of the women surveyed in a 2013 NPA study reported that their stress levels have increased over the past five years. 

Short-term stress is what boosts a woman’s immune system, decreases her sensitivity to pain and aids in memory function. Chronic stress, however, can negatively affect a woman’s health and can cause issues relating to her heart, according to the American Heart AssociationOff Site Icon.

Stress creates a chain reaction in a woman’s body that begins with the production of adrenaline. This hormone, in turn, causes a woman’s heart rate and breathing to speed up and her blood pressure to rise. These changes in a woman’s body can cause damage to the artery walls, the AHA said.

A woman may not always be able to reduce stress, but she can take steps to reduce its effect on her life. Consider the following steps to help manage stress:

Step Away – Life can be full, but it only takes 15 minutes of concentrated time to relax the body. Practice deep breathing methods, meditation or yoga, or go for a relaxing walk.

Find the Source – Make a tangible list of stressors that interfere with your well-being, especially those that are ongoing or self-imposed.

Make Changes – Become more flexible and choose the battles that are really important. Be willing to let go of things that don’t have a significant impact on your life. Set boundaries for you and your family and be willing to say no to things.

Take Care – Certain habits can have a significant impact on a body’s ability to handle stress. Get adequate sleep, eat a balanced healthy diet and exercise.

Share Your Stress – Connect with others on a regular basis and share what is on your heart and mind. Friends and loved ones often bring perspective into situations. When needed, seek professional help from a counselor.

Identify Stress – Be careful not to confuse anxiety with stress. Stress is best managed through relaxation methods or lifestyle modification. Women who suffer from severe anxiety should speak with their doctor about whether they need medication.

Rashmi Bolinjkar, MD, is an OB/Gyn physician with Premier Health Specialists who practices at Upper Valley Women’s Center in Troy.

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