Men and women are equally stressed; however men deal with stress differently. They bottle everything up and are hence more likely to suffer harmful effects of stress. The major causes of stress for both women and men are family, relationships, finances and work issues. However the greatest cause of stress differs in the two with relationship loss being the greater stressor for women while performance failure for men. Men tend to let their rival’s efforts or their employer’s agenda set the level of their demand, losing focus on the self to preoccupation with winning or attaining an extrinsic objective. But not all stress is bad. Minor instances of stress keep us engaged and challenged. This level of stress can make life interesting and help us achieve our goals. However, the danger is when stress takes over. Stress is a normal response to life’s many challenges, even when they are positive ones, such as a new job or a new baby. It is only when stress becomes too much to manage that it is harmful to the mind and body.
The main symptoms of stress include;
- Feeling tired,
- Inability to sleep,
- Lack of motivation,
- Loss of concentration and an inability to complete projects,
- Muscular and skeletal aches and pains and recurring headaches.
Stress can also cause more severe medical conditions: Chest pains, Digestive problems, Elevated blood pressure, Elevated heart rate at rest, Sexual problems such as lack of desire, inability to have an erection, or premature ejaculation, Skin eruptions
Managing stress is very different by men and women. Women often seek support from friends, family, or a support group to talk out the emotional experience, to process what is happening and what might be done. Men do not like admitting vulnerabilities. Men often seek an escape activity to get relief from stress, to create a relaxing diversion, to get away from the stress. This could be attributed to the way men are taught from an early age. Men are taught to act as if they can control the impossible on a daily basis
Three simple steps that can be used to manage stress include:
- First getting interpersonally connected with friends you rely on and talk with through a stressful situation.
- Secondly, getting physical exercise that has been shown to be a major stress reducer by boosting production of the brains feel-good hormones known as endorphins. In addition exercise helps to improve one’s mood by increasing self confidence and lowering the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. As one is busy exercising focus is on the task at hand which help one forget worries and relax. It is important to chose an activity that you enjoy doing like walking, climbing, jogging, bicycling, zumba, weightlifting and swimming.
- Last and definitely not the least, important step is getting enough sleep.
However, too much sleep is considered an unhealthy way of dealing with stress. Other unhealthy ways of dealing with stress include hiding behind too much alcohol and drugs; smoking; eating too much (for some, is akin to taking a drug) or eating too little as radical changes in blood sugar levels can affect your moods, dulling the emotional symptoms of stress; acting out anger on others; zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer; withdrawing from friends, family, and activities; procrastinating and trying to escape the stressful situation by filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems. These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run.