I surveyed dozens of women for WellnessWinz, inquiring about their top health and fitness needs. In general, the answers that I anticipated would be popular rose to the top (toning, weight loss, yoga, Pilates, endurance) but one answer that I didn’t expect grew legs and raced ahead of the rest: stress reduction. Yes, that’s right. About 2/3 of all survey respondents indicated that they need help managing stress.
For all you ladies who feel like you’re in a pressure cooker 24/7, I can empathize with you. I get it. My “To Do” list runs miles and miles long every day. Yes, I have had those moments too; moments your heart is racing because you feel like there just isn’t enough time to pick up dry cleaning before dinner or to hit the gym long enough to exercise and stretch adequately.
We will never change that there are only 24 hours in a day. We will never be able to completely forgo a night’s rest (although many have tried, failed, and hoped for a better result in the future). We will never change the fact that as women we wear many, many hats. But what we can change is our attitude.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Burden of Stress in America Survey,” found that more than half of survey respondents didn’t take steps to reduce their stress even though they were given expert suggestions to do so. Proven stress-busters included regular exercise and getting a full night’s sleep. Does this sound familiar? Do you avoid simple healthy habits because you prioritize every other item on your “To Do” list first? Chores and tasks can wait until tomorrow. Your health can’t. Here’s why…
An article written by Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley for the Miami Herald shared important information from the American Psychological Association:
“Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”
Isn’t that incredible that so many of our physical ailments can actually have stress as their root cause? I believe it. Even as a child I would somaticize stress. This means that internal stresses would physically manifest themselves. For example, for one period of time I would churn my stomach. Another time I had an eye twitch. To this day I have to be aware of what discomforts in my body might be linked to stress. I have to take a step back and evaluate whether I’m living in balance for my mind, body and spirit’s needs. And, I have to evaluate my attitude.
The majority of women are also very sensitive. In fact, women are more prone to stress than men. Although we can tolerate more pain than men (yes, it’s true, evolution is giving us a leg up for childbirth), our bodies can’t tolerate more stress. So how come we have a propensity to pile the stress on?! Ladies, we all need an attitude adjustment.
We will continue to drown in our own negative self-worth until we accept that perfectionism is overrated and that we’re not failures if we don’t get every single thing checked off our domineering task lists. We will continue to internalize stress until the backup of it in our systems puts so much pressure on our health that it begins to deteriorate. I think we deserve better than that. Don’t you?
I challenge you to do three things this week:
- Put the things that satisfy your health at the top of your “To Do” list – you will notice that once these needs are met you have more energy and abundance to share.
- Catch yourself in moments of feeling guilty for not being able to accomplish everything – take a second at this time and verbally or mentally remind yourself of things you have done and why they were important.
- Write down the #1 thing you are putting negative pressure on yourself about. Read what you wrote and then tear it up. Take a deep breath. Let it go. Do this every time you feel anxious again.
Thanks for sticking with me through this discussion, ladies! I bet most of you thought I would talk about fitness…
‘Till next time!
Yours in health and wellness,