How Women Can De-stress

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Females ranked higher than males regarding times they feel stressed, according to a recent Gallup World Poll.

The results aren’t surprising considering the numerous effects of the pandemic that unduly burden women such as changes in their children’s education, supply chain problems, health concerns, all areas in which women typically perform more work than men.

Too much stress is not good for anyone.

In addition to the negative emotional aspects of too much stress, it also contributes to numerous disease processes.

Getting rid of stress would not be possible—or desirable, as even positive circumstances produce a certain amount of stress, such as going on vacation, receiving a promotion or adding a new baby to the family. But whether positive or negative sourced stress, mitigating its effects is important.

“All people are unique. They carry with them different responsibilities, life challenges, and emotions,” said Marcy Abramsky, licensed clinical social worker with Inspire a Mind in Williamsville. “This uniqueness even presents itself between women and men. This is not solely based on the differences in the human body. They are so unique to one another in that, their roles are representative of specific characteristics throughout history. Although, societal norms are absolutely shifting, the myriad roles that many women still own can go beyond that of what anyone can imagine.”

She said that deciding to de-stress represents the first and most important step. Scheduling time to do something enjoyable such as exercise, catching up with a friend, a pedicure or a nap, may involve cutting out something else. Talking with a therapist may also count as “me time.”

“If it’s a family commitment, it may still have to go,” Abramsky said. “Try to find something to remove that won’t cause you more stress but realize this ‘me time’ is your lifeline.”

“Me time” represents just one coping skill. Abramsky also said that adopting a healthy lifestyle and setting reasonable limits and is also vital to prevent generating too much stress. Saying “no” to some commitments involves knowing what is truly essential.

“Asking yourself what you want to achieve can help you decide which things to put your time and energy into, and which things can wait or be dropped from your to-do list,” said Jennifer Cain, Ph.D., licensed psychologist practicing in Buffalo. “Identify what your goal is, or what your most important goal is. Women are often pulled in many different directions.”

She advises taking a break to perform a grounding exercise, which involves placing the feet flat on the floor and taking slow, deep breaths. This “can help restore a sense of balance and calm when your tension level is creeping up higher than you would like. You can add a variation, like moving your feet as if you are walking through sand while seated in your chair, or imagining you are in a place that makes you feel very calm and relaxed.”

It can be easy to get swept into drama while comparing lives with other people on social media, such as possessions, experiences and relationships. Instead, focusing on gratitude and close relationships evokes a stress-less contentment.

“Being close to people you trust and who treat you well releases brain chemicals that enhance your health and wellbeing, emotionally and physically,” Cain said. “Prioritize meaningful interactions with the people you care about and who care about you.”

Delegating responsibilities to others can help lighten the load. Although today’s men have improved in their willingness to help compared with previous generations who generally held to more convention divisions of labor, “society has an expectation that women plan everything,” said Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, licensed clinical social worker and president and CEO of BestSelf Behavioral Health, Inc. in Buffalo. “Ask for help from teenaged kids or your spouse when you need it.”

For some women, it is a matter of letting go of their own ideals and perfectionism for the outcome.

Delegating can also involve outside services, such as signing up for regular grocery and household goods delivery, food kit delivery, buying baked goods from a local bakery or hiring a cleaning service to help out sometimes.

“I take that hour or more I would’ve spent and do my yoga, have a cup of coffee and read a book to take time for myself,” Woike-Ganga said.

She also counts self-care as including healthful eating and sufficient sleep. Poor eating habits contribute to the ill effects of stress by placing additional physical stress on the body, just as lack of sleep “is directly correlated with managing stress. Have enough time to get those six to seven hours of sleep.”