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A Path Forward for Stressed Women

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

America's (and most of the world!) #1 health problem is pervasive, sometimes invisible, always addressable.

People have very different ideas with respect to their definition of stress.

Probably the most common is,“physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”

Another popular definition of stress is “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

Contemporary stress tends to be more pervasive, persistent and insidious because it stems primarily from psychological rather than from physical threats.

Stress differs for each of us. We respond to stress differently. There are numerous physical as well as emotional responses (see 50 common signs and symptoms of stress in next page), although numerous surveys and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are far and away the leading source of stress for American adults and that these have steadily increased over the past few decades.

50 Symptoms of Stress. What is yours?

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching, pain

  • Gritting, grinding teeth

  • Stuttering or stammering

  • Tremors, trembling of lips, hands

  • Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms

  • Lightheadedness, faintness, dizziness

  • Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds

  • Frequent blushing, sweating

  • Cold or sweaty hands, feet

  • Dry mouth, problems swallowing

  • Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores

  • Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”

  • Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks

  • Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea

  • Excess belching, flatulence

  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control

  • Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing

  • Sudden attacks of life threatening panic

  • Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse

  • Frequent urination

  • Diminished sexual desire or performance

  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness

  • Increased anger, frustration, hostility

  • Depression, frequent or wild mood swings

  • Increased or decreased appetite

  • Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams

  • Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts

  • Trouble learning new information

  • Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion

  • Difficulty in making decisions

  • Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed

  • Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts

  • Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness

  • Little interest in appearance, punctuality

  • Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping

  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess

  • Overreaction to petty annoyances

  • Increased number of minor accidents

  • Obsessive or compulsive behavior

  • Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness

  • Rapid or mumbled speech

  • Reduced work efficiency or productivity

  • Lies or excuses to cover up poor work

  • Problems in communication, sharing

  • Social withdrawal and isolation

  • Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue

  • Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs

  • Weight gain or loss without diet

  • Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use

  • Excessive gambling or impulse buying

From stress and burnout to Mental Fitness

Mental fitness can be defined as having and maintaining a state of well-being and cultivating awareness of how we think, behave and feel. When we're mentally fit, the way we interact with the world is different.

Just as physical fitness provides us with an increased ability to respond to life in all its richness, mental fitness helps in the same way. It provides us more space to choose how to respond to a situation, whether that situation is a forethought, an external stimulus, or a feeling. As a result, we are less likely to sustain (or cause) emotional and relational injury. In the same way that our physical fitness also affects our mental health, our mental fitness ultimately affects our physical health and wellness.

When you are more mentally fit, you recognize that you have a choice when that first angry statement comes your way.

Mental fitness gives you the ability to pause and respond in the way you would like, in the moment, rather than having to reset or mend fences later. In some ways, it’s like accessing the wisdom of hindsight in the present moment.

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