Men, Women, and Stress

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Everyone experiences stress but, science now shows that stress impacts men and women differently. Fortunately, there are specific stress tips that help men and women relax.

Stress Response in Men and Women

Medical experts have found that what causes women and men to respond to stress impacts are hormones, specifically cortisol, epinephrine, and oxytocin. When women are stressed their bodies are flooded with cortisol and epinephrine, which triggers the bodily release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that boosts socialization and bonding. So when women are stressed they feel the need to socialize and reach out to others for support. When men stress their bodies flood with cortisol and epinephrine as well. However, their bodies release lower levels of oxytocin than women. This means that men tend to withdraw when they’re stressed. It’s the “fight or flight” attitude that encourages them to “bottle up their feelings or power through.”

Men and women not only respond to stress differently, they also experience different stress-related health issues. According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, stress could potentially accelerate the development of prostate cancer. Studies also show that lowering stress in prostate cancer patients can reduce the progression of the disease. Stress in men can lead to erectile dysfunction, a low sperm count, and unhealthy, mutated sperm. Stress in women can lead to premature menopause, pregnancy complications, increased breast cancer risk, and irregular or missed periods.

Though men have a different stress response from women (and vice versa), both genders need Mindful tips to reduce stress impacts. Listed below are some helpful suggestions for both men and women.

Mindful Tips for Men

  1. Relax. The fight or flight instinct of stress can be a benefit and a hindrance at the same time. It encourages you to power through your stress and accomplish your goals. However, it can also create stress buildup, which can be unhealthy for your physical and mental health. That’s why it’s important to incorporate relaxation practices like deep tissue massages or even acupuncture. These relaxation activities will help you maintain low-stress levels.
  2. Socialize more. Studies show that bonding with others produces oxytocin in the body. This hormone helps people feel secure, lowers cortisol levels, and reduces stress. Unfortunately, some men have a hard time socializing when they are stressed. So, if talking through your feelings with a loved one doesn’t work, consider spending extra time with a beloved pet. Studies show that this can lower stress levels as well. Don’t have a pet? Consider volunteering at a local pet shelter.
  3. Accept the things you can’t change. In times of stress, the fight or flight instinct can motivate people to fight for results no matter what. Unfortunately, not every stressful situation can be solved. That’s why it’s important to accept the things you can’t change. Stay positive. Looking at the glass as half full instead of half empty will help keep your stress levels low.

Mindful Tips for Women

  1. Take a five-minute break for yourself. Many women reduce stress by bonding with others, but sometimes taking a quiet moment for yourself can make all the difference. That’s why it’s important to practice relaxation techniques like yoga, tai chi, or breathing exercising. These relaxation activities will help you find your center and get to the root of your stress impacts.
  2. Nurture yourself. Many stressed mothers and wives constantly put their family’s needs before their own. This constant self-sacrificing can lead to stress buildup. Instead of putting your needs last, take the time to nurture yourself. Consider having a weekly time period set aside for your favorite activities like hanging with your friends or shopping. Or pamper yourself with regular spa days at home to relax.
  3. Go easy on yourself. Many women put a lot of pressure on themselves to be superwomen in the home and at the office. All of this unnecessary pressure can lead to extra stress. To reduce this extra stress recognize your limitations and accept that not everyone can do everything all the time. Go easy on yourself and remember that it’s okay to ask for help.