Recently I have been experiencing one of the roughest emotional times that causes a lot of stress. While I fully commit to a vital lifestyle sometimes emotional problems can throw your whole well being upside down. I manage to go to work and forget my stress for a while but at home it sucks up all my energy. I noticed a weird kind of numbness appearing and I know my system is trying to cope with the situation. Suddenly I realize that even though I consider myself as a vital woman and stress expert I am sadly not constructed with some special device that solves emotional things for me and I too am vulnerable. So how do we cope as women with stress? Especially when we are already living a healthy lifestyle? And do we even take it seriously enough?
Is some of the stress we are experiencing connected to being a woman and the way society wants women to behave?
How much things, people, situations and projects you think you have to manage and how much is actually your responsibility?
Let’s explore some feelings regarding these questions.
The answers are probably different for everyone reading this.
In my coaching with women there is one similarity popping up and that is that all these women experience levels of stress and they have developed coping mechanisms.
These are the most common reasons they feel stressed;
- Emotional trauma
- Difficulties with setting boundaries
- The presence or absence of children/family
However in the first coaching session when I ask ”Can you tell me why you feel so much stress?”, I receive these answers;
- Unhappy marriage/relationship
- Unhappy with current job situation
- Experiencing physical discomfort and pain
- Something hormonal
- Family life
During the sessions when we dive deeper into the “reason” behind what we think is causing stress, we often discover deeper pains and just having too much on our plate.
With women rising on all levels in life ”Stress” becomes an easy answer. I feel that there’s a danger in that answer.
We don’t take our stress serious. We see it as a bodily response to being busy.
We easily push it aside. We don’t listen to what it tells us.
It became normal to experience longterm stress and therefor stress is not seen as the silent killer it actually is. And let’s be honest, its not normal – but common. Yet we still believe when we experience stress, that it’s because of our own weakness. We have to become more resilient and strong, so we better toughen up some more in how we seem to think we have to deal with stress. Because Society loves “strong” people.
Crying, sensitivity, softness and resting are seen as weaknesses and anger, irritation, tiredness and agitation are labeled “negative”.
No one wants to be weak and negative so we all develop a coping mechanism. We surpress a lot of our feelings and emotions and push ourselves to the max to live life at the maximum of our being. But somewhere down the line stress will affect our well being and since our hormonal system is different women respond different to stress, physically and emotionally. Our health care system isn’t build on a female being, it’s based on the male body, yet health care treats us the same. I really think we need to approach it differently.
We became very smart in trying to fix our feelings and needs. My question is always; Are you avoiding or suppressing your emotions and stress? And how are you dealing with it?
Here some of your most common answers;
- More yoga
- More training
- Another diet
- More wine
- New project
- Helping out others
- Always there for others
- Buying new stuff
- Planning “fun” activities
- Planning “me” time
- Use of excuses (saying sorry for your “behavior” and explaining yourself constantly)
- Use of medications
- Finding comfort in food
- Punishment (denying yourself things)
While there is no wrong or right answer we all could question ourselves a bit more.
Are these things helping me to reduce my stress? Are these things helping me to deal with my causes of stress?
Is this good for my wellbeing today?
And realize that when you take rest, cry your eyeballs out or show vulnerability by telling people that you’ve reached your limit of the day, these aren’t signs of weakness but forms of self care.
When you’re cranky as f*ck, tired laying on the couch, irritated on your family, having a mental breakdown with chocolate and wine, screaming to whatever looks at you and when there is no pillow safe from some frustrating anger – know that it’s not because you are an irrational woman on your period. It is not you being negative or an angry person. It is you coping with stress!
Health complaints that often occur with stress;
- Weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Hormonal disruptions
- Muscle stiffness
- Emotional highs and lows
That being a strong independent woman makes you immune to stress. I experience that myself often. However I do hear this in basically every session;
I don’t understand what’s wrong and why nothing works. I work hard, I work out, I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle. How come I feel like this.
Or the opposite;
I know what is wrong, but I don’t seem to find the solution and the answers.
What happens is that women fill in all sorts of reasons why they are feeling like they do. And most of the reasons are external. In a way it has to make sense and when we decided the reason it’s easier waiting for better times, or work even harder or comparing yourself to others and their situations. We start to blame ourselves and push things even harder all to make it better.
When we hit a wall it’s nasty. You don’t want to be weak. Maybe another diet, more PT training, a new project, buying new stuff, buying “me” time would help? Push, push and push yourself so it will be better because you work so hard to make it happen. Becoming your own coach, psychiatrist, trainer and guru. You just have to push a bit harder. You came from far to be independent, strong and accomplished.
But in these processes are you keeping yourself standing with coping mechanisms or is it something else?
For me, I took the easter days to rest. To sit with my feelings. Made space for my emotions. And wrote down what it means to be vulnerable. I know my problems won’t disappear and I will practice what I preach and if I know one thing for sure; RESTING is one of the best thing to do.
It calms the nervous system, charges your energy and gives clarity.
Going through all this makes me even more proud of the Vital Woman Program. Knowing that we created something that can motivate, inspire, give hope and provide actual steps designed for any woman who has to deal with stress no matter the cause. Deep in my heart I know what I am experiencing now is part of my process and will give me better understanding to everyone who has to deal with the same.
With love and in vulnerability,