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Stress can take a toll on our day today lives. It can have lasting physical and mental repercussions. Women are more susceptible to stress than their male counterparts. This article deals with several tips for reducing stress in women over 50.

Stress

Stress can be defined as a person’s feelings when they have to handle more than they are normally used to. It is the reaction of our body to a stimulus that can affect our mental or physical equilibrium. When we are under stress, our body responds as if we are in danger. This leads to the secretion of hormones that speed up our heart beat and we tend to breathe faster.

A little bit of stress in our lives is healthy. However, if we are subjected to stress situations on a regular basis and for longer duration  it can have a detrimental effect on our overall well-being. The adverse effects of stress on our body include headaches, back pain, upset stomach, and difficulty in sleeping.  

Stress and Women

Both men and women react differently to stress situations. Studies have shown that women are more likely to exhibit physical symptoms related to stress. Women are blessed with the nature of ‘tending and befriending’. They tend to take care of the people closest to them and also garner support from their friends and family. Men, on the other hand, adopt the ‘fight or flight’ approach to stress situations. If they cannot cope with a stress situation, they tend to escape the situation by indulging in a relaxing activity or some other distraction.

Common Symptoms of Stress in Women

The most commonly observed symptoms of stress exhibited by women are listed below.

  • Cravings: When stressed-out, some women lose their appetite whereas other develop cravings for junk food or chocolates.
  • Cuts and bruises: Stressed-out women are more likely to get cuts and bruises without even remembering about the injury. Stress triggers the secretion of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers. Therefore, minor injuries go unnoticed in stressed-out women.
  • Hair loss: High stress levels lead to the secretion of the hormone prolactin which can lead to thinning to hair. Stress can also narrow the arteries that supply blood to the scalp and this can trigger hair loss.
  • Stressed-out skin: Skin has the tendency of registering stress very quickly. Stress makes dry skin even drier and if your skin has spots, stress tends to bring out the spots. Stress stimulates the production of adrenaline which alters the balance of other hormones. Long-term stress can even cause sagging and post 40 years of age, the effects of stress on the skin can be permanent.

Tips For Reducing Stress

In women over 50, the impact of stress can be more pronounced as the body isn’t that rigid as it once used to be. If you are over 50, you need to reduce stress by leading a healthy lifestyle. Given below are some tips that can be practiced for reducing stress.

  • Regular Exercising: If you exercise on a daily basis, you tend you stay healthy. Exercising improves your mood, gives you more energy, and improves your overall well-being. Walking is also a great form of exercising. Various breathing exercises help in relieving stress. Many people practice yoga, qi gong, and tai chi for de-stressing themselves.
  • Adopt a positive approach: If you are full of positivity and have an optimistic outlook, you will be able to handle stress better.
  • Frame a support system: Look for people you can talk to when you are stressed out. Some people find solace in religious gatherings whereas others feel relaxed in the company of their friends. A support system helps in easing stress and you feel more secure and connected when you are facing stress situations.
  • Explore ways to relax: People indulge in various activities to relax. Some people take to writing about things that bother them. Spend 10-15 minutes a day writing about all the stressful events of the day and how you tackled them. This can help in narrowing down on the causes of stress and you will be better equipped to handle such situations. Some people talk to friends, family, and even counselors as a mechanism of letting their feelings out. This is a healthy way of relieving stress. Indulging in various hobbies such as gardening, painting, volunteering, and caring for pets can also be a great way of de-stressing yourself.
  • Other ways of relaxing your mind are by meditating and using guided imagery. By meditating, you can focus your mind on the things that are happening now rather than thinking endlessly about the things that bother you. You can also practice guided imagery for relaxing your mind. While practicing guided imagery, you imagine yourself in a surrounding where you feel relaxed and calm. 
  • Dividing your work: Another smart way of de-stressing yourself is by delegating your responsibilities and sharing your work. Do not think that you are indispensable. If you keep volunteering for more and more work at office, you are likely to end up feeling stressed-out.
  • Being assertive: Being assertive is particularly helpful in case of an office environment. Learn to say no, especially for things that you feel you cannot do well and if it is not your responsibility. Do not feel obligated to make unnecessary commitments.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks: If you are stressed-out, try to limit your intake of caffeinated drinks. Drinking too many caffeinated drinks can trigger mood swings and can even make you nervous.  
  • Avoid planning for things too far away: It is advisable to take one thing at a time if you want to remain stress-free. When you have too many things on hand, try to focus on one task at a time. Smaller steps make the whole work simpler.
  • Use time management techniques: Learn to time small things and find out if there is an efficient way of handling tasks. You might also want to figure out if certain tasks can be completed at an alternate time.
  • Drink green tea: Green tea contains theanine, which has a very soothing effect on your body. Green tea is known to counter the effects of caffeinated drinks.
  • Get a massage: Massage can work wonders for your stressed muscles. Getting a massage is a great way of relieving tension from your muscles. You can also opt for aromatherapy oils such as chamomile and lavender for relieving your stress. 
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  • “Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress”, by Putai Jin. Published in the May 1992 issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, accessed on March 9, 2013
  • “Stressful Life Events and Loss of Hair Among Adult Women, A Case-Control Study”, by Janine York, et al. Published in the June 1998 issue of Psychological Reports, accessed on March 6, 2013.
  • Photo courtesy of 59030623@N03 on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/59030623@N03/8633086232