As women, we can wear stress on our shoulders. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA), over a third of Americans regularly experience stress at work. But, many other studies point to the fact that women in particular seem to be more susceptible to stress and its assorted effects.
So how can we fend off workplace stress and anxiety? Though the Internet abounds with articles offering general tips on stress management, such as eating and sleeping properly, taking adequate breaks at work, and creating a calm environment, all of which are important, few address women's needs in particular. Whether you're a business owner who's not feeling like herself or you've noticed that one of your female employees seems unusually down in the dumps, here are a few points to keep in mind:
An often cited study published in the July 2000 issue of Psychological Review suggests that women are more likely to deal with stress by "tending and befriending,” or nurturing those around them and reaching out to others- usually other women. Women typically seek support to talk about their experiences and to process what is happening in their lives. For this reason, if the space is made in your business to sincerely connect to your employees and/or co-workers on a personal level, it can create a kind of support system that may significantly affect how stress is felt and handled.
According to Carl Pickhardt, PhD who is a spokesman for the APA, "Self-sacrifice in relationships is how many women enter stress." Women are by nature multi-taskers, and it is quite easy for many to give in to an almost natural tendency to bite off more than they can chew. Thus, a woman working in an environment where she is provided with no flexibility, no voice, nor the option to make work-related choices would be at a greater risk for feelings of stress- especially if she feels “forced” to balance numerous, demanding responsibilities both at work and outside of it.
Following on the heels of the previous point, is the way in which women are inclined to express themselves. Much attention has been given to the fact that we women tend to communicate differently than our male counterparts. Though individual differences obviously exist, women in general tend towards the expression of feelings and may be less direct and assertive than the men around them. Encouraging clear, open, and direct communications at work is a must.
By getting into the habit of communicating clearly and assertively and by addressing boundaries, expectations and needs in the workplace in healthy way, women can go a long way towards unloading a whole lot of stress, and suddenly that mountain can feel more like a molehill.
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