Women can certainly be admired for being relentless, intensely committed, and resilient! However, the same characteristics that make us so unique can also lead to an exorbitant amount of stress. Did you know that more than 50% of women in America say they are stressed most of the time? It’s not really a shocking statistic, but it should be! Prolonged periods of stress can lead to severe health problems, including death. In a 2012 ABC News article on women and stress, Dr. Sherita Hill Golden of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine warns us that cortisol increases a woman’s risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, thinning of the bones, cognitive impairment, and depression. Additionally, it can lead to obesity and fatigue. Cortisol is a hormone that increases when we experience stress. The more stressed we are, the higher our cortisol levels and the greater our risk for disease. The problem is, stress seems to be impossible to avoid! We lead highly scheduled lives packed with activities and responsibilities from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. I would even argue that our minds are still moving 100 miles per hour in our sleep just preparing for the day ahead. Let’s examine an average day in the life of one of The New Pink Collar followers, my mother. She wakes up, makes breakfast (for everyone), packs lunches (for everyone), feeds the animals, goes work for 10 hours, comes home to make dinner (for everyone), cleans up dishes, rushes off to practice, comes back and helps with homework, picks up the house, throws in a load of laundry, finally sits down, and passes out 1 minute later… And that’s just an average day, which I’m sure looks like many of yours. We haven’t even considered the other activities like caring for elderly family members, paying bills, dealing with difficult neighbors, arguing with your spouse, etc. (I’m getting stressed out just typing all of these stress triggers!)
Stress is literally killing us! So, why don’t we take it more seriously? I don’t think enough women talk about their stress or acknowledge the fact they are stressed. It’s hard to admit to being overextended, overcommitted, and overwhelmed, because we want to be Superwoman. Plus, there is this secret competition that goes on among women (admit it, ladies) to be better than each other, which just adds to the pressure.
Enough is enough! It’s time to reclaim our lives and start living happier and healthier. So, what can we do to reduce stress? Here are some ideas to get you started:
GET SOME SLEEP – Sleep provides a number of benefits, including improved brain function, better health, longer life span, and lower stress. If nothing else, make sleep your number 1 priority! It can be hard to schedule sleep, but make it a priority to go to bed at a certain time each night. Start a bedtime routine to help you wind down and prepare for a good night’s rest.
EXERCISE REGULARLY – This is a hard one, especially for busy women, but its a necessary one! Like sleep, working out provides a number of benefits, including better health, higher energy levels, better moods, and lower stress. Additionally, regular exercise can actually help you get a better night’s sleep. Try waking up 30 minutes early to take a brisk walk around your neighborhood.
Regular exercise and a good night’s sleep are the perfect pair for reducing stress. Some other tips you might want to consider:
- Take a few slow, deep breaths
- Find something to make you laugh – you tube is a great for that!
- Use aroma therapy – I personally like bath & body works spearmint and eucalyptus lotion from their aroma therapy collection
- Take a time out – Spend 5 minutes to yourself. Grab some hot tea. Get some fresh air.
Reducing stress is different for every woman. Techniques that work for some may not work for others, so find a technique that works right for you. Remember to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in recognizing when you’re overwhelmed. Let’s help our pink collar community reclaim our health and happiness.