Dealing with Stress

According to the Office on Women’s Health, women report higher levels of stress than men.

This could be because women are more likely to work the second shift — doing the full-time job of household and family management in addition to working a full-time job.

Chronic stress can have consequences like irritability, nervousness, depression, headaches and stomachaches; it can impact a woman’s ability to get pregnant, have negative effects on pregnancy and affect how she adjusts after childbirth. Stress also can affect menstruation and sexual desire and could make symptoms of PMS worse. Here are several ways to get a handle on your stressors and how you respond to them to help you live a healthier, less stressful life.

1. Know your stressors. Write down which situations cause the most stress and how you respond. Taking notes can help you find patterns, which can allow you to prepare for those moments and take steps to alleviate or mitigate the stress you feel.

2. Set and enforce boundaries. If you feel overwhelmed with projects, deadlines or other demands on your time, identify your priorities and cut back on nonessential tasks. Learn to say no — at work, with your friends and family, with volunteer and church obligations.

3. Use your support system. Talk to family and friends and ask for their advice and support. Explain what you need from them and enlist their help in reducing stress. Consider talking to a counselor; even a couple of sessions can help give you coping tools.

4. Make sleep a priority. This includes both quantity and quality of sleep. Changing hormones women experience because of menstruation and pregnancy can contribute to a higher rate of insomnia and other sleep problems; insufficient sleep at night can lead to lower productivity during the day and weakened immunity and can trigger or exacerbate a mental health condition. OWH recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Aim to go to bed and get up at the same times each day and reduce distractions in your bedroom.

5. Set one goal for better health. You can’t fix everything, but you can find one habit that boosts your health that you have the energy to tackle. That can be taking a walk during your lunch break, taking the stairs or spending less time looking at your phone.