A 2008 study looking into the role of gender in the processing of emotions found that women tended to dwell on negative feelings while men adopted a problem-solving attitude, enabling them to cope better.
The study, led by Dr Tara Chaplin of Yale University, U.S., concluded that a number of common factors affect a person’s ability to cope with stress, including the tendency to:
- dwell on negative emotions
- internalise stress
“If you think about it, sadness and anxiety are very passive emotions. If you’re sitting there feeling sad and anxious, you’re not as likely to problem-solve and be assertive. That could be a problem in the workplace,” Chaplin told the Guardian.
Another survey found that women prefer to solve stress by reaching out to people around them. Dr Lynn F Bufka, who helped conduct the Stress in America survey, believes this desire for a support network harks back to woman’s early role as mother and caregiver.
Dr Bufka said the way each sex deals with stress might also be related to how we are socialised into our gender roles in the West. Women are encouraged to be more open and aware of their feelings, while men feel they have to hide theirs for fear of seeming weak.
Dr Chaplin believes the key to tackling stress is to take an active approach. Rather than dwelling on negative feelings, ask yourself questions. What can I do to make myself feel better? How can I eliminate the things that cause stress in my life?
While research suggests women report higher levels of stress than men, it does not necessarily mean they are faced with greater pressures in life. Two people placed in the same situation can experience different levels of stress – it is how they deal with this situation that determines how much it affects them.
Methods like physical exercise, deep breathing and mindfulness techniques are all extremely effective ways of relieving stress for both women and men.
To find out how hypnotherapy can help, please visit our Stress page.
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