Reducing Stress Improves Women’s Health

stress and women's health

What do obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor sleep quality, and depression all have in common?

Let’s find out!!

But first of all, I’m a guy, so not an expert on women’s stress by any means. And even after 30 years of marriage (to the same women!!), you gals are still a bit of a mystery to me.

However, there are some excellent studies out there, and maybe even guys could benefit from reading this…

 

Stress could literally be killing you

Some days, this stress is almost too much to handle. Talking with someone helps. But that someone isn’t always there.

Then there’s prayer, ’cause you know God always hears you.

But what if you don’t have someone, or you don’t believe in God? Or maybe you’re angry at God for the situation you’re in?

What do you do when there’s no place to turn?

How do you change this? How do you get rid of this stress that so weighs you down?

Stress attacks your body in numerous ways. Let’s take a look at them:

How Your Body Responds To Stress

When a stressful event occurs, the body goes into overdrive and stimulates hormones that help prepare your body for action. This is known as the fight or flight response and is critical for your survival at that moment.

What happens is this…

A hormone called Cortisol is at work helping you function throughout the day. This little guy regulates glucose storage, blood pressure, and can even enhance your immune system.

Then, when something happens that causes stress, your body goes into overdrive;  increasing your heart rate and slowing down glucose absorption. Both of these result in increased energy, giving you the stamina to push through this situation.

Your body settles down after the stressful event passes, and life returns to normal, right?

But what if that stressful situation doesn’t end, but goes on…and on…and on? What if this stress is the new normal?

This is where things go from good to bad. Let’s take a closer look at this.

 

The Effect of Stress on Your Body

We’ll look specifically at 3 areas of the body that are damaged by long-term stress.

YOUR HEART

First of all, Cortisol increases your heart rate by narrowing your arteries.  But if these arteries remain narrow for too long, they become damaged and stiff; Making it easier for plaque to form, among other things.

And narrowed arteries increase your blood pressure, which over time, leads to heart disease.

YOUR BRAIN

Clinical studies have shown that long-term stress literally changes the structure of your brain. Specifically, the area involved in learning and memory literally shrinks; which also leads to depression.

And these ‘alterations’ are more pronounced in menopausal women.

The good news is there are medications that can be used to counter these changes so that you can lead a more normal life.

YOUR BODY

Your body produces insulin, which is what’s used to carry sugar out of your system. But sugar gives you energy (at least short term), so when you go into fight or flight mode, cortisol tells insulin to back off and let that sugar roam.

This is only meant as a temporary deal, however. If you remain stressed for days, months, or years, this can cause insulin resistance; and now you’re Diabetic.

 As if that’s not bad enough, your sleep is also interrupted. And without good quality sleep, your health will suffer.

Here’s how.

 

Effects of Lack of Sleep

Sleep rejuvenates your body and re-boots your mind. So over time, lack of sleep can fog your thinking, and cause mood swings.

However, it does much more than that.

Lack of sleep also:

  • Suppresses your immune system, making you more vulnerable to disease.
  • Creates a chemical imbalance leading to obesity.
  • Can be a cause of depression. (Which can cause you to eat more).

 

Gender Differences

Men and women both experience and respond to stress differently.

And studies show that women are more sensitive/susceptible to stressors. For example, when both men and women face similar stressors, women are more affected.

This doesn’t mean women are weaker than men; it actually means that women are more in tune with their emotions.

Actually, you gals tend to deal with stress in a more healthy way than us guys. Your coping style tends to be more emotion-focused; so you’ll want to connect with another person.

Where us guys tend to turn to other things, like alcohol or unhealthy foods, and maybe other self-destructive ways. And perhaps men are just not in tune? Do us guys really experience stress as much as you women, but just go into denial mode?

So what can you do?

There are medications that will alleviate your symptoms. But there are some excellent natural therapy options available as well, like:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer–Some clinical studies found a direct correlation between prayer and reduced stress.
  • Yoga.
  • Massage.
  • Just going for a walk.

And of course for you women, just connecting with another person, even your favorite pet, helps.

Here’s a simple little exercise you can also try.  Rate your stress on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being worst possible. What number would you give it?

Then, what would it take to reduce that by one number? Say you’re at an 8. What would it take to reduce it to a 7?

 

Conclusion

While a certain level of stress is not only good but beneficial; in the long term, it becomes very damaging to you both mentally and physically.

So if you’re depressed, overweight, Diabetic, have high blood pressure, and you’re not sleeping well, all is not lost. There are many treatment options, both conventional and alternative, to help you deal with stress.

If you have some healthy constructive way you deal with stress and would like to share it; or if you would like more information, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time…Blessings.

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