We live in stressful times. Well, maybe not as stressful as the ones our ancestors lived many years ago when they had no shelter and worried about wild animals eating them and whether they would find food and water. And those days during the height of the Inquisition, World War I, World War II and the Cold War must have been pretty stressful. But still, Americans in 2014 are really, really stressed.
And while that’s not good for anyone in general, it’s especially not good for middle-age women who are going through the menopausal transition. We’re already dealing with changes in our bodies, many of which we may not realize are going on since we can’t see them. And as our body undergoes these changes, we also become more at risk for many health issues such as heart disease that can be exacerbated by stress.
So how stressed are we? NPR along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health commissioned a nationwide poll this past spring. For the study, researchers surveyed more than 2,500 adults across the country. Of those respondents, almost half said they had experienced a major stressful experience during the past year while 26 percent said they had been under a lot of stress during the month prior to being surveyed.
What was especially interesting was that the women who responded were more likely to report stress in nine of the 10 categories than men or even the overall respondents. (The only category that we didn’t describe as being more stressed then men was “problems with friends”.) Here’s the breakdown by the nine stressors:
- Having too many responsibilities overall – women, 59 percent; men, 46 percent; overall respondents, 54 percent.
- Problems with finances – women, 58 percent; men, 45 percent; overall respondents, 53 percent.
- Work problems – women, 54 percent; men, 52 percent; overall respondents, 53 percent.
- Own health problems – women, 40 percent; men, 34 percent; overall respondents, 38 percent.
- Family health problems – women, 48 percent; men, 25 percent; overall respondents, 37 percent.
- Problems with family members – women, 39 percent; men, 24 percen; overall respondents, 32 percent.
- Unhappy with the way you look – women, 30 percent; men, 24 percent; overall participants, 28 percent.
- Changes in family situation – women, 11 percent; men, 9 percent; overall respondents, 10 percent.
- Problems with neighbors – women, 7 percent; men, 3 percent; overall respondents, 7 percent.
Additionally, the researchers analyzed responses by age groups and, sure enough, the ages when women are often experiencing perimenopause or having their last period show up as being times of a lot of stress. While these particular findings lump women’s responses together with men’s, it’s still insightful:
- Too many responsibilities overall – Age 40-49, 54 percent; Age 50-64, 51 percent.
- Problems with finances – Age 40-49, 52 percent; Age 50-64, 57 percent.
- Own health problems – Age 40-49, 48 percent; Age 50-64, 40 percent.
- Family health problems – Age 40-49, 36 percent; Age 50-64, 47 percent.
- Problems with family members – Age 40-49, 37 percent; Age 50-64, 39 percent.
- Unhappy with the way you look -- Age 40-49, 36 percent; Age 50-64, 27 percent.
I know I’ve harped on this before, but it’s really important to really focus on ways to lower your stress level. Whether it’s yoga, listening to classical music, turning off the daily news, petting your dog (or cat) or learning to politely and firmly say “No”, easing tensions will help you lower your blood pressure and maintain your sanity. And if you’re hoping – and planning – to live a long, full life, that can help you get there!
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Hensley, S. & Hurt, A. (2014). Stressed out: Americans tell us about stress in their lives. NPR.
Published On: July 10, 2014