Women experience greater anxiety compared to their male counterparts. Experts think this difference emerges from brain chemistry, hormonal changes, and upbringing: women tend to feel liable for the happiness of their children or their partner.
Women are more prone to anxiety as reproductive phases traversing the life of a woman are connected with hormonal variations, which have been associated with anxiety. The rush in estrogen and progesterone that takes place during pregnancy can raise the chances of obsessive-compulsive disorder marked by repetitive and upsetting thoughts, impulses, and delusions that are disturbing and exhausting.
Apart from biological mechanisms, men and women appear to feel and respond to incidents in their life differently. Women tend to become more stressed, which can raise their anxiety. Besides, while facing stressful circumstances, women and men try to find different coping techniques.
How Women Cope With Stressful Conditions
Women encountering stressors in their life are more likely to brood over it, which can, in turn, heighten their anxiety, while men tend to approach stress in a more active and problem-oriented manner. Different studies indicate that women have a higher chance to experience mental and physical maltreatment compared to men, and such abuse has connections with the progression of anxiety disorders.
Child abuse has links with alterations in brain structure and chemistry, and previous researches have shown that women who have gone through sexual abuse may have unusual blood flow within the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with emotional processing. In fact, women seem to internalize their stress, while men possibly respond to stress by building cortisol and adrenaline, which can produce the ‘fight or flight” reaction, characterized by physical symptoms like increased heart rate and perspiring palms, along with an urge to either escape from a problematic situation or face it.
In a survey. The American Psychological Association (APA) found that nearly 37% of women admitted that they are stressed, in contrast to 31% of men. Women also said that they wanted to cry at a certain moment in the previous month, were sad or dejected, experienced fatigue, and were anxious or agitated.
Differentiating hormones can be one reason why women and men respond diversely to stress. Three of them play a decisive part: cortisol (stress hormone), epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline), and oxytocin (the “love” hormone that is crucial for labor and childbirth).
When stress occurs, cortisol and epinephrine cause an increase in blood pressure and circulates the level of blood sugar. Cortisol, on its part, minimizes the resistance of the immune system. In women, when epinephrine and cortisol rush through the bloodstream during a stressful event, oxytocin, a chemical that promotes bonding and affection, starts to work. It is released by the brain, neutralizing the generation of epinephrine and cortisol, and boosting soothing and nurturing emotions. Due to it, women are found to respond to stress with a befriending response, trying to protect people in their lives, and networking for social connection and assistance.
Men also release the hormone oxytocin in stressful conditions, but it is in much lesser quantity, leaving them much wanting so far as hormones and stress are concerned.
Interestingly, in another survey by the APA, it was discovered that at times, both men and women handled stress similarly. The survey reported that the best way men handle stress was by walking or another form of exercise. However, women drifted toward activities that kept them connected with each other, like spending time with family and friends and visiting a church.
Find Ways To Overcome Your Anxiety
To cut down stress and relax your mind, you can incorporate these self-care tips into your regimen to help manage your stress in a better way.
Keep Your Body Moving
Exercise benefits both your physical and mental health. It lowers anxiety and promotes your sense of overall well being.
Focus On Your Sleep
Your quality and quantity of sleep are important. Everyone differs, in terms of the amount of sleep needed, however, most experts suggest between 8-9 hours. Here are some good sleep hygiene tips:
Turn off screens, such as your phone or the television, about an hour before going to bed.
Try to adhere to a schedule; go to bed and wake up at the same time.
Maintain a cool and comfortable temperature where you sleep.
Moderate your alcohol and caffeine intake. Both alcohol, which sedates, and caffeine, which stimulates can set your anxiety on overdrive.
Plan Your Worry Time
Doctors suggest that you choose a time to think about your anxieties and fears. You can do this by sitting down in a relaxing environment and “brain dumping” – writing everything you are thinking in a journal.
Take Deep Breaths
Breathing deeply transmits a message to your mind and brain that you are okay. To receive the optimum out of it, recline on a flat surface and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breath in slowly, hold it for a second, and gradually release it.
Become The Master Of Your Thoughts
Make an effort to transform any negative thoughts into optimistic and positive ones. Imagine yourself taking your fears and worries head-on. The more you work it out in your mind, the easier it will be to handle it when it emerges.
Relax Tense Muscles
Select a muscle group, tighten it for some seconds, then let it relax. Concentrate on one segment at a time and perform it across your whole body. This is known as progressive muscle relaxation.
Reach Out To People In Your Community
Use your time to do good work for others. It can help you to escape from your worries. Volunteer or perform different community work. Not only will you get pleasure from giving back to others, but you will also build connections that can act as a support system for you.
Find Out The Catalysts
Think of places and moments, when you experience anxiousness at its peak. Jot them down, if required. Search for patterns and find ways through which you can either overlook or face the feeling of anxiety and panic. If you are aware of the triggering points of your anxiety, you can place your worries in a proper perspective. In the near future, you will be more prepared to face it when it impacts you.
Whatever the reason is for your anxiety or excessive worries, you have to take control of your mental health and practice techniques that help you. Work to identify the coping strategies that will offer you a practical road map for taking on your challenges. Remember self-care is important and necessary!