We have all experienced our stress levels ebb and flow with time. But did you know that your age and gender have a direct correlation to the amount of stress that you are experiencing?
For women, stress often decreases as they age, with many women over the age of 50 stating that they feel less stressed, less worried and less angry than they did throughout their younger years. For men, the script is flipped. Men often state that they feel more stress as they mature.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s important to check in with yourself to see where your stress levels are at, and if there is something you can do to help manage it.
Stress can affect every aspect of your being, so it’s important to not take a one-part approach to address stress. “Recognize how stress is impacting your mind, your body and your spirit,” Sierra Farmer, MSW, LISW-S, CEAP, with ProMedica’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) recommends.
Are you noticing that you are more forgetful than normal? Perhaps you often can’t remember where you put the car keys, you can’t seem to find the right words to express your thoughts or you can’t quite put a finger on that acquaintance’s name. All of these things could be signs of stress. When we are stressed, our short-term memory decreases and chronic stress can even impede the brain’s ability to function.
Are your thoughts typically negative? Farmer challenges her clients to shut down those negative thoughts with an exercise. “At the end of each day, write down three things that went well and something you’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Farmer shares.
Also, consider the intention behind your actions. “If something you’re doing doesn’t align with your values, your peace or your purpose, it might be time to let go of it,” Farmer shares. Taking unnecessary things off your plate is a great way to lighten your load and relieve stress.
Stressed people often experience more aches and pains, have higher blood pressure and may even experience a longer healing time of physical wounds.
As much as your body may not feel up to it, movement can often be the best medicine. “Give yourself grace and do your best to at least stretch every day,” Farmer encourages. Also, make sure that you are fueling your body with a well-balanced diet and enough water and sleep.
Marsha Drees, MSSA, LISW-S, CEAP, with ProMedica’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), explains that stress may manifest itself in your spiritual life when you begin to feel a lack of purpose, meaning or peace. Perhaps you feel disconnected from others and unmotivated to pray, meditate or engage spiritually.
“This isn’t uncommon when you’re dealing with a loss or faced with a terminal illness, but it really can happen at any stage in life and with any stressor,” Drees shares.
Through everyday life, and especially when faced with stress, it’s important to set aside time to do the things that you love and that you know your body needs.
“Watch for the signs of stress and don’t pass over them or keep powering through. Take time to practice some self-care,” Drees recommends. Whether that is getting outside for a walk, praying or going to the gym, you will be better able to serve and engage those around you when you take much needed time for yourself.
Learn more about managing stress from Sierra Farmer, MSW, LISW-S, CEAP and Marsha Drees, MSSA, LISW-S, CEAP, in these episodes of Happily Ever After 40: Managing Your Stress: Part 1 and Managing Your Stress: Part 2.