You probably know that stressors are inescapable. You may think stress is inescapable, and perhaps it is to a degree. But women need not experience stress as often as many do. A vital key to stress management for women is to understand stress and stressors.
Stress management for women begins by grasping the reality that stress is not what happens to you. Stress is how you respond to what happens to you.
Stress comes in two styles: eustress and distress.
- Eustress is the happy, energized response you make to demands in your life. Acceptance of a marriage proposal makes demands on you, but most women meet them with cheerful energy. The birth of a much-wanted baby likewise makes great demands, but the happy mother responds with cheerful willingness to meet those demands.
- Distress is the overwhelmed, anxious, or angry response you make to life’s demands. It is the “fight-or-flight” response. Your teenagers make unreasonable demands, and you respond in anger. Your husband’s work demands relocation, and you respond with depression and anxiety.
Stress management for women is a matter of looking at the demand, and consciously choosing an appropriate response.
Stressors, the other factor in stress management for women, are all of those things that make demands on you in some way. They may make emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual demands.
- Emotional stressors: These demands call for your emotional involvement. A sick child or other family member may be an emotional stressor. A wedding or birth may be an emotional stressor. They tax emotions beyond the everyday norm, and constitute a need of stress management for women.
- Mental stressors: These stressors tax mental abilities beyond the usual. A need to tighten the budget may become a mental stressor. A new computer program at work can be a mental stressor. Stress management for women must deal with extra demands on mental capabilities.
- Physical stressors: Weight loss is a common physical stressor for women. New or increased exercise regimens can be stressors. So can pregnancy and child birth. We make unusual demands on our bodies and need stress management for women to respond appropriately to those demands.
- Spiritual stressors: Many fail to recognize this stressor, either because they embrace a specific faith and believe all is well as a result, or because they reject religion and believe they do not need it. Either way, unusual demands for spiritual values (honesty, for example) can be stressors, and demand stress management for women.
In the second part of this article, we look at practical stress management for women – appropriate responses that can often turn distress into eustress.