You’ve got to finish that project at work to make the deadline, call to make a doctor’s appointment, and pick up lunch (didn’t have time to make it)—oh, and crap—you forgot mom’s birthday card at home and your daughter just called from school and she’s sick. Your palms begin to sweat. Your heartbeat increases. Your mind whirls with your to-do list.
Stress affects everyone, especially women. But before we go any further, let’s clarify the difference between stress and anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America (ADSA), “Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.”
Sometimes stress can motivate us to perform well, be prepared or succeed. But, it can also negatively impact our mind, skin, attitude, sleep, relationships, and even our sex lives.
“Stress makes you tired, distracted and unmotivated to do anything, much less have sex,” Dr. Laura Berman, director of the Berman Center for women’s sexual health in Chicago, told NBC News. “When a woman is stressed, the hormonal changes in her body trigger a chemical reaction causing sex hormone–binding globulin to bind with testosterone cells, so they’re unavailable for libido and sexual response.”
We wish we had tips to mitigate stress completely, but sadly that’s not realistic. We could just throw up a “too blessed to be stressed” meme and call it good. But instead, we’ve come up with 4 tips to help you reduce stress.
1. Identify stressors
A recent study by the American Psychological Association shows that the top three stressors for adults in the U.S. are: family responsibilities, work and money.
We make about 35,000 decision a day. Take a moment and think of what specifically stresses you. What triggers stressful moments for you? How can you decrease the impact of these stressors?
For example: the stress of making a payment on time can be alleviated by setting up automatic payments. Or, if you’re constantly rushing out the door in the morning, getting up 15 minutes early can help you have a peaceful start to your day.
Those are routine stressors, which can usually be eased. But when accidents, health issues, and other unplanned events happen, we can’t control them. What we can do is choose to make positive habits to help process and cope with these unplanned stressors.
Keep reading to learn more!
We can’t emphasize this point enough. You’ve probably seen this (ironically) online, but our addiction to technology is tied to our stress levels. Constant access to streams of news (positive and negative) fill our minds not giving our brains time to recuperate and recharge.
“The Internet may be the newest “substance” to be a candidate for a mental health disorder,” wrote Forbes Magazine.
Staying connected can be good, but over-connection and over-stimulation (especially at the end of the day), can be bad when we don’t get a break. Stress from work will follow us home if we’re on our phone/email. Seeing people’s “highlight reels” or stressors on social media won’t decrease our stress. Instead, it will create stress, or we’ll absorb other people’s stress.
A Swedish study found that people who use technology have a distinct risk for mental health problems including stress and anxiety. And, a study in 2017 claimed that “selfitis” (being addicted to taking selfies) is a real addiction.
Start today by unplugging from technology (T.V., your phone, tablet, etc.) 15 minutes before bed, and 15 minutes after you wake up. See if you can gradually increase that number until you’re unplugging an hour before bed/after waking up. Unplugging will not only help decrease your stress levels, but, (bonus!), it can help increase your focus.
For more tricks to decrease stress, check out Online Mom’s guide to unplugging.
3. Choose for you
What helps you de-stress, isn’t necessarily what helps someone else. Find what works for you! Studies show that certain foods can help you relax and relieve stress. Food like asparagus, berries, oysters—even avocadoes. (A great reason to try avocado toast!)
Physical activity is also a healthy way to unwind. When you’re active, your body releases endorphins, which help boost your mood and calm your mind. Maybe a relaxed activity like going outside for a walk or yoga calms you. Or, doing an intense activity like running, a HIIT workout or barre class helps you unwind by refocusing your energy on something else.
Or reading a book, cooking, painting, spending time with family, meditating, taking a bath, etc.—whatever you want. What helps you may even be smelling an orange. (Yes, that’s a real thing, and yes, it does help people de-stress.) You decide.
Also, remember what helps you relax and unwind at one time in life, may be different than another time. Try different activities and note which gives you peace and helps clear your mind.
For more ideas, check out 100 tricks to help you de-stress right now.
P.S. Earlier we talked about how stress can decrease your sexual desire. But, ironically, having more sex reduces stress! It’s due to the oxytocin and endorphins [feel-good hormones] released during sex.
4. Seek help
Of all our tips, this is the most important. Asking for help is a strength. We all need help at different points in our lives. Try the tips we mentioned above or try your own techniques, but also know when to ask for help.
Anxiety is real, and the most common mental illness in the United States. And, women are 60% more likely to suffer from most anxiety disorders than men. Please contact your medical practitioner, counselor, spiritual leader, or whomever you feel most comfortable with to talk about your stress.
Tying it all together
Life is busy and can be stressful. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can help ourselves and others to de-stress. Try different destressing tricks and tips: walk it out, dance it out, try some avocado toast, whatever works for you!
Share this blog to help others de-stress and remember: ask for help.