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The Physical Side of Stress

The Physical Side of Stress


According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), stress is an expression of the body’s natural instinct to protect itself. While the stress response may warn us of immediate danger, like a fast-approaching car, prolonged stress can negatively affect your physical and emotional health.


How Does Stress Affect a Woman’s Mind and Body?

While men and women can react similarly in many situations, stressful or otherwise, there does seem to be some difference in how men and women react to stress.

“Women tend to react to stress differently than men,” says Dr. Rosch. “They don’t respond with the fight or flight response — they’re more apt to negotiate.”

In previous research, psychologists have called this the “tend and befriend” response. This may have come about, theorize scientists, because it would have been evolutionarily adaptive for women to protect offspring rather than attack or flee from predators.

The “tend and befriend” r

esponse, some think, may be mediated by oxytocin, an anti-stress hormone produced in women during childbirth, breast-feeding, and in both sexes during orgasm and other moments of human connection.

How Does Stress Affect a Woman’s Health?

The particular challenges that women face at home, in society, and at work may increase the amount of stress you experience.

“Your stress may vary, but if you have stress with your work, your kids, your neighbors, and marriage all at once, that’s a big deal,” says Lori Heim, MD, past president and chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a physician at Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, North Carolina. “In women, I see this in changes in menstrual patterns — nothing else is going on except a huge increase in stress, and all of a sudden, they may be losing their hair or having menstrual irregularities, and everything points to stress as a factor.”




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How Can Women Lower Stress Levels?

Improve your diet. By eating well-balanced meals and skipping junk food, you can improve your physical well-being and, in turn, your emotional health.

Make time for exercise. “We do know that exercise is a phenomenal way of dealing with stress and depression,” says Dr. Heim. Research shows that getting active can lift your spirits by increasing hormones and neurochemicals that can improve your mood.

Find fun ways to relax. Connect with family and friends and people you enjoy being around. Other popular stress-busters include yoga, meditation, and tai chi.

Finally, if you feel overwhelmed by stress and its effects, talk to your doctor about ways to deal with it. You may learn new techniques for managing stress on your own, or you may find that therapy with a mental health professional will better help you to get it all under control.


Source – Everyday Health

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