We’re all subject to the stress that comes with life, it’s unavoidable the key is to find a way to manage and deal with this stress. Chronic exposure to stress leads ages us prematurely, both physically and psychologically, so having a go-to technique when thinks are getting too much is crucial.
Men & Women Deal With Stress differently
Men and women react to stress differently, the reasons being both physiological and environmental. We both release the same mix of cortisol, epinephrine and oxytocin. But oxytocin, the anti-stress hormone is enhanced by the higher levels of oestrogen in women and reduced by the higher levels of testosterone in men.
This biological response is a mark of our ancient ancestor’s response mechanism to fear, something that never left us as we began to evolve a higher consciousness. The problem is that the body cannot differentiate between the physical stress of a predator hurdling towards you and an emotional stress that comes with a great deal of modern life, financial and social concerns for instance.
Women are more likely to cope with stress socially, reaching out to friends and men are quite the opposite, partly an unfortunate result of the macho culture surrounding masculinity. Men will internalise stress in an attempt to escape the problem rather than confronting it directly. This failure to cope is one of the reasons suicide rates are three times higher in males compared to females.
To deal with stress you should have a form of stress management in place to cope with when things get too much. This can be anything from simply taking deep breaths to meditating. Being prepared and having a way to combat stress is the best way of reducing the effect it has on you.
1. Manage Your Time
A lot of stress is down to time restraint, whereas it’s not unavoidable you can be smart about how you spend your time, something as simple as a schedule can alleviate stress. Plan ahead, add in an extra 10 minutes for your morning commute.
2. Write Things Down
Rather than carrying the burden of any obligations in your mind, write them down. These commitments will stop revolving around your conscious and give you space to think about other things. The euphoria that comes with crossing off a completed task is an added bonus.
3. Take Deep Breaths
Longer breaths balance the dichotomy of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream caused by stress. It’s also therapeutic. When we’re stressed we tend to take shorter and more abrupt breaths. Taking the time out to correct this is an effective calming method.
Exercise is cathartic, it allows you to put everything into perspective and take the stress out of the day. As part of our fight or flight response, our body produces chemicals for physical activity, required once to flee from danger or fight a predator. Exercise relieves this feeling by producing endorphins.
5. Stay Awake
We all have nights where our mind won’t switch off, there’s too much to think about and you’re too stressed to sleep. Rather than getting worked up and frustrated it’s best to stay awake and engage your brain in an activity for 30 minutes. Reading takes the mind away from stressful thoughts and after doing so you’ll be able to sleep quicker.
6. Get Some Fresh Air
Go outside for a break, the vitamin D boost will increase serotonin levels and a change of environment will help you focus, while the fresh air is calming.
The Bottom Line
Stress will always be an internal battle. Your ability to distance yourself and take a perspective on things really helps to minimise the effect stress can have on you. It’s unavoidable in life but with the right methods in place, you can combat stress effectively, without letting it take control of your life.