You may already know that too much stress is a bad thing. You may even know that too much stress can increase your risk for certain health issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. But did you know that women consistently report experiencing stress at higher rates than men?
What Is the Mind-Body Connection?
Chronic stress in women can lead to depression and anxiety, and as many as 1 in 5 women experience these negative effects of stress, according to the American Heart Association. Unfortunately, negative mental health and chronic stress can lead to an increased risk for heart disease.
Your mental health can have a big influence on your body, and that is what the mind-body connection means. For example, a stress response in the body could result in an upset stomach or increased heart rate.
How Can Women Relieve Stress?
Since women experience stress symptoms more often than men, it’s important to learn how to relieve stress to decrease risk of heart disease. While everyone has something different that works for them, the best thing women can do to relieve stress is to take care of their bodies.
Remember that mind-body connection? It goes both ways. When you take care of your body by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and avoiding unhealthy habits — alcohol and tobacco use, for example — your stress levels will likely decrease.
The 4 A’s of Stress Management
If taking care of your physical health isn’t doing enough to support your mental health, try the four A’s of stress management:
When it comes to the stressors in your life that are beyond your control, accept that you can’t control everything. This is particularly helpful if your stressor comes from relationships with other people. No one is perfect, and it might help your stress if you accept that you can’t change people or control what they do.
Adapting to your stressful situations is like looking for the silver lining. Try to reframe your stressors into positives. For example, packing for a vacation may be stressful, but you get to relax at a pleasant location once you arrive.
Remember that you are allowed to alter your behavior to help manage your stress. If you’re stressed about someone who is doing something that upsets you, try communicating how you feel instead of biting back your feelings. If morning traffic consistently adds stress to your day, try leaving the house earlier than normal.
Lastly, avoid unnecessary stress. Learn how to prioritize your to-do list and say no when you have too many things on your plate.
Talk to a Professional
If you are having difficulty managing stress on your own, request an appointment with a primary care provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.