In this blog we will answer the question ‘why do men and women handle stress differently?’ and deliberate on the differences between the emotional environment of males and females.
Why do men and women handle stress differently?
Men and women handle stress differently because as John Gray wrote in his famous book, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” They are totally different beings and their brains are wired in ways that handle stress in unique ways, totally apart from the other.
Men, on one hand believe in reacting, fighting and retaliation, whereas women are more emotionally attuned. Their physiology, genetics, hormones are all separate from the other, thereby, these being the main causal differences.
In stress the bodies of men produce adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that are involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response and the physical symptoms of increased heart rate, sweaty palms and the instinct to fight comes to the forefront.
During stress the bodies of women produce hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, but with an addition of oxytocin. Apart from the ‘flight or fight’ response of adrenaline and cortisol, the hormone oxytocin is responsible for feelings of binding and creating close warm ties. This difference leads the women to seek comfort and bonding while they are undergoing stress.
As John Gray writes in his book, ‘A woman under stress is not immediately concerned with finding the solution to her problems, but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood.’ They want comfort and want to be held when in distress. Women seek refuge in the communication they can have with a significant other.
Women and the Soaring Stress
Women have always had a higher stress as in most cultures even the men are dependent on them, emotionally and domestically. They are responsible for household chores and raising kids, as well as giving emotional support to family and friends.
Women have an innate tendency for caring and reaching out to people who are in distress, therefore, they too require the same care and affection when they are down.
According to one Stress and Gender research,
- women are more likely than men to experience stress.
- Married women are more under stress than single women.
- In the past 5 years stress for women has spiked, than for men.
- Women lay more emphasis on family bonds and ties, thus the reason that they suffer more from stress, even related to family and relatives.
Handling stress by women takes many manifestations. They tend to cry a lot and express their sad emotions through either a crying spell or staying quiet to process it over at times. Women suffer an added domestic burden that makes them more agitated than men.women are famously known to multitask as they have to run a household, manage their office work load and care for the family, including husband and children. Pregnant women often worry if stress can bring on labor.
In Eastern cultures and societies, there are joint family systems, where the inlaws also live with the couples. The expectations from women in these cultures are higher than frommen. They are expected to work in the house as well care for everyone and not even lag or complain about it.
Therefore, the stress level is much higher than in men.
Women suffer from stress headaches, nausea and other physiological symptoms of stress. At times during stress women go on a cleaning spree to vent out their pent up aggression or anxiety. Clean household may also mean that the woman of the house has dealt with stress!
Men handle stress in a confident manner, not letting way to emotions, trying to play the emotional Hercules. They do not cry or mostly do not share their emotions with others.
Men mostly suffer from hypertension and heart problems, related to stress. They would try to resolve it rationally and would seldomly give in to emotional outbursts, but still it varies from person to person.
According to Lou Holtz, “it is not the load that breaks you down, but the way you carry it.” Men carry it differently than women. This proves th
Men indulge themselves in playing or watching sports, as well as listening to music. “The major sex differences I see have to do with the management of demand and maintenance of energy,” says Carl Pickhardt, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Positive Discipline. Though, one might also experience stress in sports.
According to Pickhardt, the greatest stressor for women is the loss of a relationship and for men, it is the failure of performance. Thus, this being one of the most defining differences in controlling and handling stress.
Stress is an internal or external threat to the person’s peace and his idea of self and others. Men adopt a sport like golf, football or the like and women take up hobbies mostly, like knitting, painting, crocheting or writing. These are taken up to occupy the mind and not think of stresses.
The best way of managing stress is talking to each other, even if one belongs to Mars and the other to Venus.
Stress can be managed by engaging in the following:
- Accepting the facts over which we have no control
- Keeping a positive attitude
- Engaging in yoga, tai chi, mindfulness meditation to clear the mind and focus on the present
- Consume a balanced diet
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water
- Exercise daily
- Reduce the use of alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Adopt a hobby that keeps you busy
- Talk to friends and socialize on a casual level
- Unwind yourself by listening to your favorite music, going on walks, plan trips with loved ones
In this blog we have answered the question ‘why do men and women handle stress differently?’ and deliberated on the differences between the emotional environment of males and females.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What are the common signs of stress?
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain
- Stomach ache
Q2) What are the 3 causes of stress?
- Death of a family member
- Losing a job
- Marital issues
Q3) What are 5 emotional signs of stress?
Anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, anger issues, restlessness.
Q4) What happens to your body when you are stressed?
When one is nervous, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that increase the heartbeat and breathing rate.
Titles to read
- Why Mars and Venus Collide: Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress
by John Gray and HarperAudio
- Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking
by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
- Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Inner Barrier to Women’s Happiness and Fulfillment
by Valerie Rein PhD
- Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace
by Patricia Collard