Life is full of stress. Men and women are both affected by stress for the same reasons (job, kids, family, health, money, lack of relaxation). Although most men do not report feeling anxious, chronic illnesses associated with high levels of stress are more likely to affect men. Unchecked stress weakens the immune system over time and raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and a wide range of other chronic health issues. The first step to dealing with stress symptoms and moving toward the healthy, successful life you desire is to become aware of them.
Responses to Stress that vary by Gender
Stress causes the brain to release the chemicals cortisol and epinephrine, which start the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. No matter if you’re a man or a woman, this occurs. However, studies that compared the brain activity of men and women using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) found that there are a number of gender-specific differences in how men and women react to different stressors.
In these two trials, men responded more intensely than women to stressful situations by activating brain regions related to alertness and unpleasant feelings. In response to the hard task, the parts of a man’s brain that control pleasure and happiness were turned down.
Another study suggested that the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline, and oxytocin may be linked to gender-specific stress reactions.
The female brain produces more oxytocin during stressful times, which works to neutralise the effects of cortisol and epinephrine by promoting nurturing and calming emotions. This behaviour was named the “tend and befriend” reaction by the researchers, who hypothesised that women are more likely to manage stress by tending to those close to them and making friends (befriending). A guy is more likely to engage in fight-or-flight behaviour because the male brain releases less oxytocin while under stress.
Men are harmed by the “suck it up” mentality.
A person’s ability to cope with stress is influenced by a variety of psychological, cultural, and sociological factors, in addition to the physiological disparities between the stress responses of men and women. For instance, many American men are raised with the notion that they should “bottle things up” and resist asking for assistance. According to research, men are less likely than women to acknowledge or admit that they are stressed out and ask for help with their mental health.
But “maning up” won’t help the situation. In high-income countries, suicide rates are three times higher among males than females, according to 2018 World Health Organization research. Additionally, according to data from Mental Health America, over three million American males and over six million American men annually experience an anxiety condition and signs of depression, respectively.
Recognize the signs of stress.
Prior to managing your stress, you must first acknowledge it. How does stress manifest itself for you? Common stress-related behaviours and signs include:
Being tired all the time.
Eating too much or too little
A lack of drive or attention
Issues with sleep
Tobacco use or smoking
Being agitated or enraged
Aches and pains in the muscles
Higher heart rate
Using drinks or taking medications to relax or cope
Experiencing agitation or anxiety
Being depressed or sad
Lack of desire, the inability to get an erection, or premature ejaculation are all examples of sexual issues.
Depression, which in men frequently presents as irritability, rage, hostility, aggressiveness, risk-taking, and escape behaviour, can be brought on by excessive stress. Self-medication with alcohol and other drugs is also a common symptom of male depression.
There are several strategies that can help you feel better, lessen the effects of stress, and get things back on track.
Get adequate rest – An adequately rested body always handles stress better than one that is worn out. Try these evidence-based strategies to obtain better sleep: go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; put your phone or computer away an hour before bed; cut back on alcohol a few hours before bed; and make your bedroom dark, cold, and quiet.
Regular exercise –Through the release of tension and an increase in endorphins, exercise relieves stress (the feel-good hormones).
Don’t depend on alcohol – Because it is a depressant, alcohol will make your stress feel more intense and difficult to manage. You could discover that nourishing your body with nutritional supplements is a healthier alternative to self-medicating with alcohol to dull the pain.
Healthy eating – By boosting the immune system and assisting with optimal body functioning, a balanced diet can help you combat the effects of stress.
Do one enjoyable thing every day – Making time for the activities you enjoy is essential to decreasing stress and feeling joyful because it’s easy to get lost in a to-do list. Start something you’ve always wanted to do or something you already know you enjoy doing. and repeat it often.
Spend time with your loved ones – It will serve as a reminder of your true priorities in life.
Inform someone – You simply can’t handle things on your own at times. Asking for advice from a reliable source is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s a sign of fortitude and a chance to regain control of the situation and move forward. Reach out by talking to a friend, a family member, your doctor, a counsellor, or a therapist about what’s bothering you.
Take up a mind-body exercise – Yoga, tai chi, and meditation come in a variety of forms that can all help you decompress and reduce stress. These procedures have been used for millennia because they are effective.
The final word
Men, even if you don’t acknowledge it or admit it, you do experience stress. Moreover, the tension is harming you. The first step in managing stress and moving toward the healthy, successful life you desire is recognising the signs and symptoms of stress.