Janet Nestor has returned as a guest blogger for me today with a superb article on Women and Stress. You can meet Janet live on the free Fall Success Summit
Solutions: Women and Stress
by Janet Gallagher Nestor, MA, LPC, DCEP
Most women are multi-taskers. Our culture says we can do it all: Get a good education, be an engaging conversationalist, be beautiful, marry, have children, keep a size 6 figure, have a career, clean the house, drive the car pool and be a home room mother. Even more stressful, we are expected to do it all well … and sometimes all in the same day! Even after the children are grown, the facts remain the same. We are expected to have a life that is overflowing and too busy for one person to handle comfortably.
For women, stress seems to create a need to “nest”. This urge is much like the “nesting” we do prior to giving birth and centers on the overwhelming urge to create comfort. We are caretakers by nature, so we often reduce our stress by nurturing others. This habit can become a catch 22 because we get caught between our own comfort needs and the need to comfort others. We give of ourselves when we have nothing left to give and then wonder why we feel drained, confused, exhausted, anxious and sick. I remember sitting around chatting with a group of girl friends when we all were young wives. One of our group was the mother of two pre-school children, employed and married to an executive. He worked long grueling hours and she was left to juggle her job, parenting, and household chores. Near tears, she explained her day that began before dawn, her deep physical exhaustion and her need to be a supportive and loving wife. She said, “My husband does not understand why I need his support or why I have to take a nap so I have enough energy for a romantic evening!” I understood, and I bet you do too.
Some of us get so busy and so disengaged from our feelings that we don’t recognize that we’re anxious or angry. We run on auto pilot and our bodies are in flight or flight and churned up, ready for anything that comes along. We stay in flight or fight for days and weeks at a time because we have so many things to do and so little time to get them done. We feel stress in our bodies, but the origins are comprehensive. A certain amount of stress is a natural part of life, but stress can get out-of-hand. Here are some of the symptoms and results of prolonged and untreated stress.
- Irregular and/or painful periods, difficulty getting pregnant, loss of sexual desire
- Neck and back pain, headaches
- Sleep difficulties – restlessness, insomnia, chronic fatigue
- Weakened immune system, exacerbation of arthritis
- Breathing problems, including asthma attacks
- Mood swings, temper tantrums, paranoia, depression and isolation
- Digestive problems – irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea, bloating
- Eating disorders, substance abuse and addictions
- Anxiety or panic attacks with difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, dizziness, chills and sweats
- Heart disease, high blood pressure
If you worry about stress and some of the items on the list above sound familiar, take heart. There are ways to regain your life and health. Here are some very effective stress busters.
Realize that you always have options. Knowing that we have the ability to choose reduces stress. There are always alternative solutions. We have the right to say yes and the right to say no. We have the right to be happy, the right to change our minds or make any thoughtful, positive self-supporting decision.
Encourage your body’s production of Endorphins Endorphins, amino acid and natural analgesic, create elevated mood, a sense of overall well-being and reduce our perception of pain. We don’t have to run 5 miles to achieve the famous runner’s high. Endorpins begin to flow with deep breathing, laughter, meditation, acupuncture treatments, chiropractic adjustments, massage, eating spicy foods or chocolate, and they are responsible for our sexual gratification.
Have fun with your girl friends Research indicates that women reduce their stress through nurturing female relationships. We can talk honestly with our friends, sharing our problems, hopes and dreams. Women friends encourage each other, support each other, provide an intimacy that is necessary in our lives and increase our sense of self-worth by providing a sense of belonging.
Adopt abundance thinking We view our glass as half full, our life as an evolving process, our attempts as a stride forward, and our challenges as teachers. Abundance thinking keeps us in a positive place. A wait in the grocery line provides time to plan dinner. A traffic jam allows time to do a breathing exercises. A burnt casserole gives us an opportunity to treat the kids to pizza. With abundance thinking there is always enough of everything for everyone.
Spend some time alone every day Spending time alone in meditation and contemplation is “inner awareness school”. We learn what makes us happy and we embrace our personal morals and values. We begin to understand the people, places and things that create inner joy or conflict. We recognize and embrace our inner wisdom and learn to apply it in every day life.
Work at a job that feels like a hobby and provides a pay check Choose work as a vehicle for creating health and well-being. We don’t have to have a college education to accomplish this, nor do we have to be born with a silver spoon to think this way. Choose a job or a career that gives back emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
Learn to maintain a “total person” point of view We are mind, body, spirit, personality, heart and emotion. We are creative and powerful. Within each of us is the answer to every problem because we are programed with the capability to maintain health and well-being. We are whole people, and we live from our highest self when we respect that wholeness.
Seek professional help when you need it Most of us put off taking care of ourselves in order to take care of our children, our parents, our life partner, our friends and our communities. Don’t be afraid to explore your options. Professionals work for you, so ask questions. Get several consultations before you choose the counselor, doctor or dentist best suited to meet your needs. You are your own best advocate.
Try healing activities Yoga and the martial arts stretch us physically and encourage higher levels of self-awareness. Yoga can help us handle anxiety and depression. Tai chi is a great modality for individuals with post traumatic stress.
Energy psychology and energy medicine Energy psychology and energy methodologies like Healing Touch have improved the quality of life for millions of people world wide. They help with chronic physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual issues by improving sleep, positive attitude, self awareness and self efficacy.
For more information about anxiety and stress check out these resources.
- Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology: www.energypsyc.org
- Anxiety Disorder Association of America: www.adaa.org
- National Women’s Health Information Center: www.4woman.gov
- The Health Psychology Network: www.healthpsychology.net
Janet’s Contact Information:
office website: www.centerofwellbeingonline.com
Pathways to Wholeness on Amazon: http://amzn.to/c9cyP6
To hear Janet live on the free Fall Success Telesummit: Click Here
Sheri Kaye Hoff, MA, CGCL, Life Coach, Author, College Professor