Stress Management: Easier and More Important Than You Think
Is stress management needed in your marriage? Perhaps one of the oldest yet hardest-to-answer questions is who is more stressed: women or men? Between you and your husband, who would you say is more stressed? If you feel it is you, recent reports would agree. The American Psychological Association reports that women are more likely to say they are more stressed, that their stress levels have increased over the last five years, and that their methods of handling stress are the least effective. Women, whether or not they are the breadwinners of the family, are the more stressed of the two genders, particularly if they have less education and lower income. And this trend is on the rise, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and discussed in the Huffington Post. Yet women do not report a correlating rise in their ability to handle stress; in fact, they report the opposite.
Why Is Stress Management So Hard?
Most of us would say we know, or have been told the best ways to handle stress. Eating healthy, sleeping well, and exercising are all on to-do lists in some form or another. The problem comes in the implementation. A major study published in 2010 by the American Psychological Association found that:
In general, Americans recognize that their stress levels remain high and exceed what they consider to be healthy. Adults seem to understand the importance of healthy behaviors like managing their stress levels, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercise, but they report experiencing challenges practicing these healthy behaviors. They report being too busy as a primary barrier preventing them from better managing their stress, and a lack of motivation, energy, and time as the chief reasons for not being more physically active. In 2009 and again this year, lacking willpower was cited as a barrier to adopting healthy behaviors when lifestyle changes were recommended by a healthcare provider. Yet the majority believes willpower can be learned as well as improved, if they only had more energy and confidence.
So, in the face of a highly stressed but motivationally challenged population, scientists are realizing that isolating stressed peoples' perceptions of their stress and its related symptoms, and then treating those perceptions with cognitive, behavioral, or hypnotic therapy is significantly helpful in treating both matters, according to the American Institute of Stress. It follows, then, that just being aware of your stress, your stressors, and doing a little self-therapy and implementing stress-management tips will help, in addition to the normal efforts to reduce stressors, improve physical health, etc. So what would that "self-therapy" entail? Dr. Cynthia Ackrill, a Fellow and board member of the American Institute of Stress, says that, while there isn't a panacea that helps all people relieve all of their stress, there are so many ways to reduce stress." The trick is in learning how to distinguish between...stresses like the loss of a loved one that you can’t hope to avoid and others that you can prevent or influence...so that you're not constantly frustrated, and then [devoting] your time and talent to areas where you can make a difference."
Beyond that, consider implementing these helpful stress-reduction techniques as well:
- listening to relaxing music
- reading a book
- spending time playing with friends or family
- doing a hobby
To those of you who ask, upon reading these recommendations, "how on earth am I supposed to find time?", I answer: "it is imperative that you make time." It is in your best interest, as well as that of your family and your marriage, that you carve that time out of your day to counteract the stress you face. Let us here at Mom It Forward help you do that.
What are you doing to relieve and manage stress?