A new study has sought to measure the difference between men and women in terms of how our minds and bodies react to stress. Turns out, we women suffer far more than our male counterparts. Shocker, right? As if periods, childbirth, the pay gap, years of oppression and, let’s not forget, bloating weren’t enough, we get this too. FANTASTIC.
All joking aside, this just gives us more reason to look after mental health, ensuring our stress levels are managed at all times, as best we can. The study by the American College of Cardiology found that men had more changes in blood pressure and heart rate in response to various exercises that caused mental stress, while more women experienced myocardial ischemia, decreased blood flow to the heart. On top of this, women also experienced increased platelet aggregation, which, we hasten to add, is the beginning of the formation of blood clots. Men didn’t experience this to quite the same degree. And just to make us feel even more stressed out, it was suggested that the women in the study endured a greater increase in negative emotion, as their sense of positivity decreased while undergoing the stress tests.
So, we all know that stress is unavoidable. We could spend our whole lives trying to dodge it, but even those who live the most serene of lives will encounter stress from time to time. And it’s often the stressors you don’t see coming that get you the most. But there’s a certain amount of stress that we can handle, and there are lotsof things you can do to keep your stress levels at their sweet spot.
Again, operating at your best will always come down to three simple things: good nutrition (high carb, high sugar diets will serve only to increase your stress during stressful times), regular exercise (there’s no destressor quite like it) and a good night’s sleep (this part we explore at length here). On top of that, you have to learn the art of mindfulness, so as to keep your stress levels in check and avoid letting your mind run away with itself. Whether you take some time out to focus on your breathing and nothing else, go for a calming stroll in nature or follow some guided meditation with an app such as Headspace, this is a great way to reduce your daily stress.
When you’ve got all of the above taken care of, it’s all about picking your battles. What’s worth your nervous energy and what’s not? You’ll probably find that most of what you’re losing shut eye over really doesn’t matter, or at least it won’t in a week or a month or a year’s time. Take some time to focus on the positive, which we can help with over here.