It’s a little trite to say that everyone is different, but when it comes to how men and women handle stress, there are definite differences in how they do it. Men in general will handle stress in one way that is different from how women handle it. There may be some overlap, it’s usually observed that many women have their own different ways of handling stress.
How did you in most cases, women who let stress pile up will often cry to vent and let the stress release while relieving stress the more they talk about what is stressing them.
Men, on the other hand, may simply keep the stress bottled up until it passes on its own.
Women may also try to handle their stress by treating and nurturing, whereas men may engage in a fight or flight response.
The man’s survival mechanism is a response to stress that releases tons of hormones at once. When this happens, their muscles might tense up, they may start breathing rapidly, and their heart might begin pounding in their chest. Part of the fight response could be that the man reacts to stress by becoming argumentative or angry. The stress may also cause them the man too retreat because he’s feeling frustrated and helpless. This flight response can result in a bad mood or a retreat to sleeping as a way to handle the stress.
Women typically don’t experience of fight or flight response like men would, and certainly not as frequently. Instead, they may treat the stressful situation with empathy, intimate contact, and a response that could be considered emotional.
Why do men and women handle stress differently? There are a few different factors at work that cause the difference in response to stress, and I will talk about those here so that you can better understand why you may be reacting to stress the way you do. And it may also help you to understand why your partner or your friends or family members don’t respond to stress in the same way.
The Hormonal Difference
When we’re trying to uncover why do men and women handle stress differently, the answer essentially comes down to hormones. In stressful situation, men and women will release different hormones as a reaction to the stressors.
Women often release the hormone called oxytocin when stressed, and this creates anti-stress effects. When oxytocin is released, it can create the state of homeostasis, where the biological systems in the body start to balance out and the body begins to relax. As this happens, women’s cortisol levels and blood pressure can decrease.
A lot of the natural processes and experiences that a woman’s body goes through, like nursing, pregnancy, and child rearing, can help them to learn to be nurturing and empathetic. These kinds of experiences can lead them to react to situations with friendship, a sense of giving, and intimate contact, whereas men may push people away from them in a time of stress.
The way women handle stress often comes down to personal connection. Women are many times able to manage their stress because of this method they use to respond with connections and the sharing of feelings rather than denial.
The male hormone released during stressful situations is sometimes adrenaline. In times of great stress, men can release adrenaline to handle the situation. This can temporarily exacerbate their stress levels until they feel they have handled the situation.
Men may also release testosterone when under stress, allowing them to feel more confident and empowering them to take charge. At the same time, testosterone can create a fight response, leading to anger and an argumentative spirit. An increase in heart rate, sweating, and tension in the muscles that occurs when testosterone is released prepares a man to handle distress physically. Of course, if there is no physical solution readily available, the man can become frustrated and turn to a flight response, retreating from the situation.
Men and women also manage their energy in different ways, and the difference in sex can determine how energy is maintained and the toll stress takes on energy levels.
Men feel self-esteem because of how they are able to perform and their level of ability. If they feel unable to perform as they believe they should, men can start to expend energy to try to deal with the problem. They may experience an overdemand for energy and they may poorly manage their energy levels because of how they are dealing with stress.
Women, conversely, experience stress that is often caused by a different energy expenditure. In their case, a lot of stress is caused by how they sacrifice of themselves in relationships. Men may feel stress because of the competition and the level of challenge in their duties, particularly at work and in relationships.
For both men and women, stress can be caused by excessive energy expenditure, but often for different reasons. What drains a man’s energy and causes him stress may be very different from what does the same thing for a woman.
It’s ironic to think that the self-sacrifice and giving that women do in relationships often becomes how they deal with stress, trying to nurture and give of themselves to handle the stress. Similarly, men may feel stressed and frustrated because they are not performing well and feel like their energy is expended. So, to compensate, they may expend more energy in trying to meet the challenges and to improve their performance as a result of the stress they feel.
How Men and Women Manage Stress Differently
How people manage stress is very different between the genders. Women usually seek out support and have an emotional response. They will often try to talk about the experience to help them process what they have been through and try to figure out a solution. Many times, just the act of talking about it makes them feel better, as they lay it all out and can analyze it. The stereotype of how women seek comfort among their girlfriends is true in that it is simply a common response to dealing with stress.
Men will usually try to escape from what is causing the stress. If they can’t find a solution, they look for an escape. These days, many men will find that retreat in video games or other hobbies, like sports. They may also engage in harmful and self-destructive activities, like alcohol and drug abuse, which is more prevalent among men than women.
Men may act out their stressful energy and give themselves a little bit of a challenge among the company of other guys. What they usually won’t do is talk about their feelings while they’re doing this escape activity. Women often engage in a less challenging activity as they talk about their stressful experience.
Productive Ways to Deal with Stress
In both cases, it’s good for men and women to take a break from the things that are stressing them and find a diversionary activity or spend time with people that are not causing stress. This break can give them time away from their stress to look at it objectively and to see it in new light. They can get away from the feelings that have been bottled up inside them and find enjoyment in a different and beneficial environment.
For men and women both, it’s a good idea to spend time with friends, whether talking about their feelings and emotional experiences or just as a diversion and an opportunity to find happiness for a period of time.
It’s also a good idea to spend some time outside getting physical activity and breathing in the fresh air. Oxygenating the blood this way is helpful for the body, relieving feelings of depression and anxiety and often releasing endorphins that help you to feel better.
Taking part in anything that gives pleasure, even something as simple as enjoying a dessert, can be helpful for relieving stress. It stimulates the mind and helps to put your brain on a different course from its frustration and the sense of entrapment that stress can put you into.