Stress is not limited to just anyone. Since the pandemic began, particularly, the general state of mental health has been declining than ever. Even so, the impact has been felt by more women. A 2020 article notes the pandemic has affected women more profoundly than men in several areas, both at the workplace (especially in the health and social sector) and home, with an increased workload due to lockdown and quarantine measures.
It may be a while before the pandemic is over, and we can’t let the stress go on for too long. We don’t want it turning chronic, as the effects can be harmful to women, both mentally and physically. Read more to know how to live a more balanced life and learn some quick stress relief methods you can use daily!
Why Women Need More Stress Relief
While the pandemic has been taking a toll on everyone, mental health-wise, it’s the work-from-home mothers who are suffering more, as they have to juggle between caring for their children and doing their jobs.
You might ask, how about the men? Don’t they share the responsibilities at home and experience the same mental burden? To respond to that, first, we need to explain what “gender socialisation” is.
Gender socialisation is defined as “a process by which individuals develop, refine and learn to ‘do’ gender through internalising gender norms and roles as they interact with… their family, social networks and other social institutions.” In other words, every boy and girl is taught to behave differently. As a result, society has differing expectations about every gender’s responsibility. Girls, for instance, are expected to take care of their children.
This may explain why there has been a rise in domestic violence cases during the pandemic. It is reported that asking for more support at home can trigger violence against women. Lacking domestic and emotional support will eventually deteriorate women’s mental health and thus, cause stress.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
Stress might be a mental problem, but the symptoms can manifest physically. According to American Psychological Association (APA), these symptoms affect many parts of the body, from the muscles, heart, nerves to the respiratory, endocrine and gastrointestinal systems.
The negative effects on women include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles, more painful premenstrual syndrome and periods, changes in the length of cycles.
- Reduced sexual desire.
- Stress may affect a woman’s ability to conceive, her pregnancy’s health and postpartum adjustment.
- It may result in reproductive diseases.
- Women already in menopause have less oestrogen to help the blood vessels handle stress better. Therefore, these women are at a greater risk of heart disease when experiencing stress.
- Postmenopausal women can also have more intense hot flashes.
Tips for a More Balanced Life
APA suggests doing little actions that might help balance your life and manage stress:
- Adapt your attitude by acknowledging your feelings and accepting that nobody’s perfect.
- Promote self-care.
- Try to be more organised by creating a schedule, making a priority list and delegating tasks.
- Stay in contact with people who matter, like friends and family.
- Involve the children in your planning. For example, give them a task and reward them for finishing it without bothering your work.
7 Quick Stress Relief Methods
When you’re overwhelmed, there are some easy things you can do to tackle that feeling. Not only are they simple, but they are backed by science.
1. Listen to music
Based on a 2015 study on university students, researchers learned that listening to music can reduce daily stress.
2. Imagine yourself immersing in nature
A study has found evidence that guided imagery reduces anxiety. While any imagery seems to work just fine, the study concluded that the nature-based one has the most relaxing effect.
3. Eat and drink well
Consume foods or beverages, such as pomegranate, that help lessen stress. A study on mice showed that pomegranate juice is an excellent anti-anxiety and antidepressant. Furthermore, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formula, Xiao Yao San, was discovered to have the same effect as antidepressants. Similarly, dong quai, or Chinese Angelica, also has antidepressant effects and a balancing effect on the female hormonal system. However, it is for this same reason that dong quai is not recommended for pregnant women.
4. Get creative
According to Behavioral Sciences, people who engage in creative activities have significantly decreased stress levels. These activities include art, music, dance or drama therapy.
5. Just breathe
Sometimes all you need to do is to breathe all the negativity out. A 2017 study revealed that diaphragmatic breathing practice could set off the body’s relaxation responses and reduce the consequences of stress.
6. Get moving
For many people, an endorphin rush is all they need to get those good vibes flowing. Simply clocking in 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is all one needs to get out of a funk. The best part? Aside from putting you in a good mood, you’ll burn some calories too.
7. Engage in a care-frontation with your spouse or partner
What better way to release stress than to “let it all out” with the person you share your life with. This way, your partner will be more aware of the stressors in your life — whether it be work-related or personal issues — and provide the support you need to get through tough times.
Although you cannot avoid stress in your life, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Fortunately, these stress relief methods and life-balancing tips can help you calm down and improve your wellbeing. Despite many ways to improve mental health on your own, if you are experiencing overwhelming stress, you should consider consulting your trusted healthcare professional.
This is an adaptation of an article, “Women & Stress”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
- Frontiers. 2020. Women’s Mental Health in the Time of Covid-19 Pandemic [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Research Gate. 2019. Gender Socialization [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- American Psychological Association. 2018. Stress effects on the body [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- American Psychological Association. 2020. How working women can manage work-life balance during COVID-19 [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Science Direct. 2015. Music listening as a means of stress reduction in daily life [online]. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453015002127> [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Science Direct. 2015. Music listening as a means of stress reduction in daily life [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Frontiers. 2018. Nature-Based Guided Imagery as an Intervention for State Anxiety [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Research Gate. 2018. Pomegranate juice attenuates neurotoxicity and histopathological changes of the nervous system induced by aluminum in mice. [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2011. Chinese Herbal Formula Xiao Yao San for Treatment of Depression: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials [Accessed 21 January 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2016. The Antidepressant Effect of Angelica sinensis Extracts on Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress-Induced Depression Is Mediated via the Upregulation of the BDNF Signaling Pathway in Rats. [Accessed 21 January 2022]
- MDPI. 2018. Creative Arts Interventions for Stress Management and Prevention—A Systematic Review [Accessed 20 January 2022]
- Frontiers. 2017. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults [Accessed 20 January 2022]