12 Serious Scientific Facts About Women & Stress

stressed woman

Stress is SUCH a buzzword these days. And long gone are the days when it only applied to day traders. Now we're all f****ng stressed out of our minds.

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Think stress keeps you on your game? Helps you get more done? Is the reason you're able to stay thin? Oh, boy, do we have a lot of light to shed. Keep reading for the REAL truth about your stressy stress.

1. Women are particularly susceptible to stress. Go ahead and say, "Duh, because we always take care of others!" Because, um, that IS the reason why. We're socialized to be caretakers. Plus, over 70 percent of married women work outside the home. That's a lot of juggling. Did we mention that women have a harder time saying "NO!" than men do when we feel overloaded?

2. We worry about different things than men. According to the American Psychological Association, men get all tense about work, while women are more likely to get stressed about money and the economy.

3. The female body's uniquely equipped to handle stress. The good: Our estrogen levels enhance the effects of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin, meaning nurturing makes us feel less stressed. The bad: When we're not touched/touching, we're more negatively affected by stress. (AND more likely to get stressed about our relationships.)

4. And we show our stress differently, too. Women are more likely to report both physical AND emotional symptoms of stress. The most common? Headaches, upset stomach, indigestion, and -- stop us if this sounds familiar -- feeling like you're going to burst into tears.

5. Attached women are more stressed out than single ladies. And also feel like their stress has increased over the past five years. Single women, on the other hand, are more likely to feel they're managing their stress well. That said ...

6. Women eat to relieve stress. Just in case you weren't sure, this is NOT a good strategy. But 31 percent of women stress-eat. And 49 percent admit to overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a way to feel better.

More from The Stir: 25 Easy Ways to Lower Your Stress Levels

7. But although exercise DOES help ease stress, we're not doing it enough. Thirty-five percent of women work out once a week or LESS. Which we guess is a nice way of saying "Not at all." The biggest reason why? Being too tired, which is, of course, a common symptom of ... you guessed it, stress!

8. Stress has long-term consequences. And they ain't good. A Swedish study found that women who experience long-term stress have a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.

9. More stress also takes a toll on your weight. Florida State University researchers discovered that stressed-out middle-aged women are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI).

10. It also affects your ZZZs. Sorry to be the bearer of even more bad news, but more stress equals poorer quality sleep and/or insomnia. But don't let it keep you up at night!

11. Stress isn't good if you're trying to get pregnant, either. According to research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, stress makes women LESS fertile ... which may explain why your BFF swears she got preggers the minute she stopped worrying about, well, getting preggers!

12. "Me time" should be a necessity. Stop thinking of relaxing as a reward. You kinda sorta need it to keep those stress levels down. (Need an incentive? Reread #8-11.) Take a long, hot bath. Read a book. Take a walk with a friend or nap with the dog. If nothing provides you with relief, seek the help of a professional counselor. Your happiness -- and that of your family -- depends on it.

 

Image via iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

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