Star’s Corner: The Stress Effect – American Women are Under Pressure
Worried. Anxious. Overwhelmed. Stressed.
For a lot of us, these are words that literally run through our veins. Stress affects most of us, personally and professionally. While some stress is okay and manageable, too much stress can actually be dangerous. We often don’t realize the physical and mental toll stress takes on us until we are at our breaking point.
According to a 2015 National survey by American Women, across the board women cite money as their top source of stress, with 41% of women reported to be the primary breadwinners in their households. Financial pressures weigh heavily on professional women—as they should, considering full-time working women generally earn 79 cents for every dollar men earn.
The pressure is on…because even in today’s American workplace, women are less likely than others to have access to paid time off, parental leave or the flexibility to work from home without jeopardizing their financial standing. How then, are women supposed to build a financial foundation if the ground beneath them is unstable?
Of course, if being stressed was a full-time job, we’d probably all be rich—rich and very unhealthy. Studies have found that long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems in women, including:
- Mental health problems – Depression, anxiety and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease – Heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems and loss of sexual desire
- Skin and hair problems – Acne, psoriasis, eczema and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems – GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis and irritable colon
So ladies, let’s stop being worriers and start being warriors! Here are some ways to conquer stress before it conquers you:
Put on Your Oxygen Mask First!
As they say on an airplane, put on your oxygen mask first before you help others. If you’re not breathing, you’re not going to be that helpful to anyone else. I know it’s not easy. As any professional woman knows our days are filled to the max with an endless overload of responsibilities and commitments. You must make yourself and your health a priority—I cannot stress it enough (pun intended!). It took me a long time to understand the warning signs of stress so pay attention and take care of yourself first.
Set Your Limits
Don’t let yourself or anyone else stretch you in every direction. Let’s keep it real, ladies. We cannot be everywhere at once or all things to all people. Be confident about saying “No.” It may actually come in handy. When I was a practicing attorney, I was working 60-70 hours a week and as a Senior Assistant District Attorney, I was responsible for caseloads of immense volume and importance that literally, would decide another person’s life and liberty. I sacrificed seeing friends and family, I developed bad habits that would take years to correct and I even sacrificed my health while trying to do it all. It took some time, but I learned the importance of saying no. So, set limits and draw the line. It could very well save you from going over the edge.
Just Ask for Help
Too many things to do and not enough time in the day? Don’t hesitate, delegate! There are people in your life who can help you, if you’d just ask them. Reach out to a co-worker for extra help with a project, ask a friend about carpooling your children to where they need to go, ask a family member or neighbor to babysit or pet sit so you can have the night off to relax a little. You’ll be surprised how much help is out there—and all you have to do is ask.
“Momma, lie your behind down…we’re tired from working all day.” –Pinky Michelle Jones
Surround Yourself with Positivity 🐾
This is a big one for me. As you know, my job requires me to travel almost continually. With being on the road (or in the air) so frequently, it’s often difficult to stay spiritually and emotionally grounded. In the same year I had open heart surgery, one of my girlfriends had a massive debilitating stroke. She’s now fully recovered (Thank the Lord), but it was a long and arduous journey to recovery. In helping direct her recovery, I started doing research on pet therapy. Little did I know that in less than a year, I would be the one who would benefit from it. Researchers have found that just a 12-minute visit with a dog improves heart and lung function in men and women who are hospitalized with heart failure. Regular contact with pets has been proven to also lower blood pressure and anxiety.
So, meet the little Maltese that changed my life for the better, Miss Pinky Michelle. I had her trained to aid in my heart health recovery. She helped and continues to help me control heart palpitations and spikes in my blood pressure. Pinky’s unconditional love has brought me the serenity I need to stay healthy.
Here’s to staying stress-free and feeling fabulous!
We want to hear from you. How do manage everyday stress? What techniques work for you? Share your tips and advice below.