Here’s Why Men and Women Handle Stress Differently

Hey Angels and Angels,

Have you ever noticed, for example, when looking at your mom and dad, that they’re rather inconsistent in their reactions when facing a difficult situation?

Men and women could experience stress in different ways, and respond to different stress triggers. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), women have more physical and emotional responses to stress than men.

While these stress reactions will ultimately play an emotional role, they can also translate to impact on their exercise, diet, and weight.

Stress leads to weight change…

That’s no secret to anyone. According to the APA, 45 percent of women and 40 percent of men say they’ve gained weight during the pandemic. On the other hand, 20 percent of men and 17 percent of women have reported that they unintentionally lost weight during the pandemic.

The reason? External stressors.

Some people consume comfort foods as a reaction to challenging circumstances, more often without even realizing they’re responding to anxiety-inducing situations. And the situation doesn’t even have to have anything to do with food.

The APA reported that many more women were actually leaving the workforce (and feeling more stress) in response to that work-at-home division of labor, likely feeling as if it were falling more on them. Sure, if you already had a plan for education or child care (and taking care of them wasn’t a part of your job description) the thrust falls upon you.

And other high-stress situations such as the pandemic could make females more likely to turn to food for comfort, or on the flip side, cause their appetite to significantly drop.

We often see women portrayed as emotional eaters on television and in the movies… with characters stereotypically chugging down pints of ice cream to soothe their feelings. But this behavior doesn’t just affect women.

Men can also be emotional eaters. Emotional eating is more of an association where we say, okay, this is how I will comfort myself or this is what I’m going to do when I’m bored. Whatever that emotional trigger is… the response is usually that person’s favorite comfort food.

Making yourself a priority…

Women can often find themselves in the role of the caregiver, whether they are looking after their partners, children, or parents. Men could also be caregivers, but statistics show two out of three family caregivers in the United States are women, likely leading to the increasing stress levels. If you’re in a position like this, you might want to find time for yourself and the activities you enjoy so you can have an easier time managing stress.

Even if you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands, a few minutes here and there, whether it’s for a walk, or a meditation, or a healthy meal… is really all you need to get yourself in a better frame of mind.

Doing things like this will decrease your desire to reach for junk food, spend unhealthy screen-time, or skimp on your workouts.

Making small, incremental changes in the places in which you spend the majority of your day can result in massive wellness rewards. This means that figuring out creative ways to change up your work environment (so it’s less stressful) could be one of the best things you can do to slowly adapt to a more stress-free way of life.

You might find it helpful to create new healthy rituals such as listening to podcasts, creating nightly routines, and reading more instead of checking your social media every night until you go to sleep.

Be more mindful…

Whether you’re a female or a male, practicing mindfulness will help you lower your stress levels – guaranteed. It will also help you focus on your exercise and diet. And recognizing what you’re actually doing (and how that differs from what you’d want) will help keep you away from emotional eating and responding to emotional stimuli.

Ask yourself this: when you begin to feel stressed, are you able to directly link it to something specific? If you keep a journal or log and you’re looking for those repetitive triggers and patterns, this could be the first step to deconstructing your stressors.

And always remember to leverage physical activity for releasing stress…

Both women and men undoubtedly benefit from exercising regularly. Physical activity is one of the most well-researched and proven ways to improve your mood and lower stress levels. Just be sure to watch out for your intensity level and not stress yourself further.

Remember that exercise is also a form of stress… and if you’re already stressed, you might not get many benefits from doing HIIT or going out for long sprints. Instead, use exercise as a way to release the stress you’ve built up instead of building on top of it.