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© Copyright 2000-2016 by Carol Goldberg, Ph.D.  

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Stress 

How Women and Men Can Manage Stress 

                                                             

Dr. Carol Goldberg was invited to discuss women’s stress on the "Today" show on NBC television.  Here are her explanations and implications of a fascinating research study.                                                                

                                                                           

                                                                                            As seen on the Today show

Women Exceed Men in Stress    

     Ask just about any woman and she will tell you women have more stress than men.  Now, research shows women feel more stress universally.  In a study of 30,000 people, in 30 countries, women reported more stress than men.  These countries were as diverse as the United States, Japan, Indonesia, and South Africa.

     People between the ages of 13 and 65 were asked how much stress they experience.  These self-reports are particularly meaningful since stress is subjective, not something dumped on us.  Stress is our reaction to pressures and demands.

     Dr. Goldberg is careful to point out that although stress was shown to be universal, the reasons were not examined in this study.  Thus, there may be different causes of stress in different countries.

     Not surprisingly, the highest stress was found among mothers who have both full-time jobs and children under 13.  Most women who work out of the home have grueling schedules.  Sleep deprived, many begin their work days several hours earlier to get children ready for day care or school; do after job shopping, dinner preparation, and clean-up; help children with homework; and work late into the night doing household chores and perhaps homework from their jobs.  They rarely have time for their own needs, to rest, or to relax.  Such work overload does not just happen to single moms.  Even married women get little help from husbands with child care and housework.  

     The largest disparity in stress was that widows had far greater stress than widowers.  Dr. Goldberg suspects some reasons may be economic, since widows have far less money than widowers.  Men have greater earnings and contributions to Social Security, pensions, and other savings.  Furthermore, since women live longer, they outlive their savings more than men do.  She also cites social stress since the number of men compared to women makes it more difficult for widows to find partners.    

                                                    (Research by Roper Starch Worldwide) 

What Women Can Do to Reduce Stress

     Dr. Goldberg advises women not to let stress ruin their health.  She thinks if women discuss with men the toll child rearing takes upon them, men would want to share more equally and provide alternatives to ease burdens.  For those who cannot afford help, relatives, friends and neighbors might pitch in with child care and chores.  Widows' stress could be reduced if younger relatives and the community could assist with companionship and finances. 

      Dr. Goldberg tells how women can help themselves too. “Try to schedule an hour a day for yourself to exercise, do meditation or other relaxation techniques, and whatever leisure activities you enjoy.  Most of all, do not feel guilty about making necessary time for yourself.” 

What about men and stress?                                           

Understanding Men's Stress        

     Even though men report less stress than women do, they also suffer from too much stress.  Men’s stress may be particularly evident in physical symptoms, such as heart attacks, strokes, overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing drugs, not taking good care of themselves, and having angry outbursts.

     Although the causes of stress may overlap for men and women, there are some pressures that especially affect men.  Men are more likely than women to work further from home and thus have longer commutes.  Commuting pressures include being subjected to road rage, being sandwiched into trains and buses, and delays beyond their control.  Men also are more likely to do distant business requiring plane travel and living out of a suitcase.  When out-of-town, men eat more poorly and neglect their health.  They also miss important family events that provide support and meaning.

What Men Can Do to Reduce Stress

     Men should take stock of how stress affects them.  They should try to reduce pressures causing symptoms of stress.  Set priorities.  Don't view time as a contest, but realistically plan so you can arrive relaxed instead of frazzled.  Know and try to avoid stress triggers, such as getting involved in road rage.  When absent from family events, share in them via phone calls during the events and watching videotapes of them.  Whether home or away, exercise, eat properly, and do relaxation techniques to protect against stress.           

                          © Copyright 2000 by Carol Goldberg, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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