When I am in my office doing therapy for women I am also asked this question.
Why am I so stressed? The most common causes of stress in women are different from those in men. You can see a list of the most common causes of stress on the left.
Often stress is something that has been building up over time, and we have been unaware of it. Chronic stress happens in the body, and is often happening almost completely without your awareness! Especially if you are used to pushing through difficult situations, and aren't used to prioritizing your needs as many women are.
Stress can cause an episode of anxiety or depression, and adhd. It can also exacerbate symptoms and delay recovery. It important to find out where our stress is coming from!
The main triggers of chronic stress mentioned on the page are workplace stress, relationship stress, health stress, body image stress, parenting, trauma and family of origin, and money stress.
Relationship stress usually results from a fear of being unloved misunderstood or somehow inadequate. It can also result from not voicing your own needs, doing too much emotional labor, and being in an abusive relationship. Relationships stress shows up in friendships, coworker relationships, family relationships, and neighbors.
Reflecting on the things you value in your relationship and committing to those values can often be incredibly beneficial when managing relationship stress. Improving communication skills and patterns is also often a quick way to reduce stress in relationships. learning about assertiveness, forgiveness and self compassion and boundaries are also great things to do here. Another area that is often stressful in relationships for women is the amount of emotional labor we do in relationships, as well as housework and parenting when talking about our homelife.
Work stress is frequently caused by a fear of getting fired or not getting a raise, especially in this economy. It can also result from a fear that you are on the wrong career path and uncertainty about how to go about pursuing a different option. Finally, feelings of fear related to inadequacy or of anger because you feel unappreciated ignored or disrespected are also causes of stress in the workplace. We have the added pressure of sexist attitudes in the workplace, for example when we are confident we are perceived as pushy and aggressive. When we try to speak in meetings we are talked over, and men often take credit for our ideas. . Women still experience sexual harassment, unequal pay, and Corporate speedup can be an issue too. The most common causes of stress in the workplace are often very different for women.
When discussing money stress its important to understand that its our beliefs about money and what it can do for us, and our behavior in regards to money that frequently leads us into the biggest stress trap.
Body image and dieting.
Women have unrealistic expectations of their body image and diet and exercise standards. As a result their has never been a women I have worked with that doesn't struggle with a feeling self critical and inadequate in some way because they fail to live up to how they should be eating, exercising or reaching a standard of physical attraction. Therefore they will constantly feel stress in their area to achieve a standard that is unattainable.
A history of unresolved trauma
Unresolved trauma usually comes from our childhood. A perfect family doesn't exist. Being a parent is hard and most people make mistakes. We need to be able to acknowledge how our upbringing and families may have affected us. Recognizing when we are triggered into painful and stressful emotions from our past can help us reduce stress. Often these patterns happen without our awareness. Therapy for women can help you address these patterns or you can learn them on your own through a self help journey. One great resource is Self Therapy by Jay Healey. Once you understand this stress, you can begin to be free from it.
Stress from being self critical
This is another category of stress I see which is caused by women who just don’t feel good about themselves. This usually comes from childhood trauma, or from experiences within your family of origin. Self criticism causes stress hormones to be released in your body!
As with all stress it’s important to address what is underlying this, face it, feel it, and remedy it. If you have self defeating patterns, it’s worth exploring. Therapy for women often focuses on issues of self compassion, forgiveness, criticism, and procrastination, Fear of failure often causes stress, as does perfectionism, which you can learn about here.
Regardless of the form of stress , the plan for managing it is often the same. Face the problems honestly ,come up with a plan to deal with it that is the most feasible and stop worrying. It may take dedication and commitment to manage your stress, but it can be done.
This is probably one of the most stressful areas of a women's life. Every aspect of parenting is a strain, from the economic cost, the challenge of doing it well, to the strain it puts on your marriage and the research bears this out. From the time a women becomes of childbearing age to the time you go through menopause, the ability to have or not have a child, and the stress of bringing one into this world is not to be underestimated!
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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.