It’s not unknown that men and women handle stress differently. If I want to play into what society portrays (I openly apologize to my sister-in-law for gender-stereotyping right now), men like to go out to the garage to work on something, make themselves feel like they are solving all the world’s problems. While women like to get together with their girlfriends for some chit-chatter over margaritas and chips and salsa. Seem familiar? Or so far from the truth that you are swearing to never read this blog again because I stereotyped men and women? Either way, it is no secret that men and women do not respond to stress the same way. If we did, then no one would ever be made to sleep on the couch and flower companies would be out of business.
But like many other differences between genders, we have been told that men and women are just different in this way. No explanation, we just are. OK, ok, maybe you grew up hearing all men are stubborn and all women go through periods (no-pun intended) of craziness, but that’s not really an explanation either.
The truth is, that men and women DO respond differently to stress, and it all comes down to how our bodies are programmed to react.
When a man is under stress his body is inclined to have a hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis response, also known as the resistance stage, putting the body on auto-pilot to run; leading to high blood pressure or a heart attack. While a woman’s body is more inclined to have a hormonal (not surprising right?) response, triggering her emotions; leading to depression or anxiety. Whether, situational (acute), or persistent (chronic), both types of reactions can have either a positive or negative effect on a person’s health; it is knowing how to manage stressful situations, and knowing when you have entered a state of chronic stress, that allows a person to reap the benefits, instead of submitting to the short-comings.
So how do we manage these reactions to have more positive than negative outcomes? I only have one tip for you today, and know that this is just the tip of the iceberg: Get yourself into bed to allow enough time for 7-9 hours of sleep.
As previously stated, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have a lot more to cover in regards to how our body responds to stress and there are a lot more steps you can take to optimize the stress you do experience.
For more information, stay tuned for my next post on stress: The Basics of Cortisol, the primary stress hormone.
a.wise approach ~ start paying attention to how many times in a day you feel under pressure, knowing this is the first step to reaping the benefits stress.