Stress Management Effects on Health How Women Can Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 21, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print 1 Why Women Need to Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy Women's friendships safeguard women's health by relieving significant stress. Creative RF/Hero Images/Getty Images Women face special stresses and have unique needs when it comes to stress relievers and healthy lifestyle choices. The following are different ways women can make lifestyle changes to promote their health. Social support can be a great stress reliever. Friends can help us in many ways, from offering a supportive ear to lending a helping hand. Studies have shown that those who have strong social support tend to be healthier, happier and less stressed. For women, especially, this is an important part of life to nurture, as women tend to deal with stress more often by sharing feelings and forming supportive networks. One stumbling block to friendships for women is that we find ourselves so much busier these days. Demands of work, children, or other commitments can take over the time that was previously free to pursue friendships, so it’s important for women to make an effort to develop social support in their lives. The following resources for social support can help you to develop the nurturing friendships you need to help you through the stressful times and get more enjoyment out of the fun times. How to Create Truly Supportive Friendships The Hows and Whys of Cultivating a Circle of Friends How to Build Friendships With Good Listening Skills How to Improve Your Relationships With Good Communication 10 Worst Ways to Handle Conflict 2 Find Balance and Learn to Say No Learning to say no nicely but firmly can make things easier for both parties. Thomas Tolstrup/Taxi/Getty Images. Women today play many roles at once, and because any one of these roles can be all-consuming, finding the right balance of time to devote to different areas of life can require strategic planning. However, without planning, prioritizing and paring down, commitments can take over every spare moment of time, leaving little or no time in a woman’s schedule for important and self-nurturing activities like ‘downtime’, exercise, friendships, and even sleep. The following resources can help you to find a better level of balance in your life so that you allow enough time for each area of your life that’s important, and the amount of time you spend in a given area reflects its importance to you. How to Say No: If you find yourself saying yes to too many activities and requests for your time, this article can help you. Stress Relievers for Busy People: If you’re busier than you’d like to be, and can’t take vacations, here are some ways to build relaxation and fun into your life. Extra Energy for Busy People: If you can’t pare down your schedule, here are some ways to find extra energy so that you can do more and still keep stress levels low. 3 Stress and Health: Taking Care of Your Body Taking care of your body is part of taking care of your mind. 4FR/Getty Images Women are often the caretakers of others. We care for men and children, friends and family, but don’t always care for our own bodies. Because stress itself causes great physical damage, it’s important for women to relieve stress in ways that nurture our bodies and souls. Here are some stress relievers that are great for your body: Exercise: Getting out and getting active has numerous health, beauty, and stress management benefits, including a leaner body, greater energy levels, improved overall health, the opportunity to blow off steam, a change of scenery, and a catalyst to take your mind off of what’s stressing you, among other things. Spa Treatments: Whether you’re going to a top spa or setting up a home spa experience, pampering your body on the outside can melt away the stress that you’re feeling inside, and leave you feeling more refreshed and beautiful afterward. Read more about setting up a spa at home, and make a habit of using it. Healthy Eating: A healthy diet has more benefits than just making you thin; because a poor diet can exacerbate stress levels, healthy eating can leave you with more energy, thinking more clearly, and reacting in a more even-tempered way to stress. 4 Get Enough Sleep Getting enough sleep should be a high priority if you're focused on stress management. Atli Mar Hafsteinsson/Cultura/Getty Images According to research and a poll on this site, too many of us don’t get adequate sleep and operate in a sleep deficit. This leaves us less productive and more prone to stress, among other things. Women, because of their busy schedules and multiple roles, often find themselves getting less sleep than they need, or are unable to get a good night’s sleep due to stress. If you find yourself getting too little sleep, the following resources can help you get the quality sleep you need to function well. Stress and Sleep: Learn about the physical and emotional damage that can result from getting too little sleep, and how it all affects your stress levels. The Benefits of the Power Nap: Read about how to use power napping as a stress management tool and increase your productivity and improve your health in the process. Sleep Aids: If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or achieving quality sleep every night, these are some all-natural ways you can get better sleep from now on. Are You Overscheduled? As mentioned previously, being too busy is one of the main reasons stressed people get too little sleep or suffer from poor quality sleep. Here’s a refresher on cutting back your schedule. 5 Stay in Touch With Your Feelings Staying in touch with your feelings is more important than you may realize. Cultura/Liam Norris/ Getty Images Too often, we’re told to ignore our inner wisdom and charge ahead in pursuit of our goals or to do what’s expected of us. While these things are important, if we habitually ignore what our feelings are telling us about our choices and our lives, we make choices that aren’t in line with our true selves and aren’t good for us. Being in touch with our feelings should be considered a tool for wellness. Becoming fully aware of how different events affect us can help us decide things like: How much is too much to take onWhich people are good for us, and which sap us of energy or self-confidenceWhat vocation is really in line with our strengths and interestsAnd many other important life decisions that affect our stress levels. While it’s easy to discount our own feelings or ignore intuition if that’s become a habit, you can tune into these things at any time. It may take a little practice, but you will ultimately benefit greatly from listening to your inner wisdom rather than ignoring what your feelings are trying to tell you about your life. The Following Resources Can Help Journaling: Journaling has terrific stress management and health benefits as well as the potential to be a wonderful self-discovery tool. Talking It Out: Talking with a close friend or even a professional about what you’re feeling and why can help you to sort through your feelings. They can also point out things about your thought process that you may not have thought about. 6 Change Your Self Talk Develop self-talk that elevates you from stress, rather than making things worse. Christina Reichl Photography/ Getty Images Women also tend to get into the habit of putting ourselves down and adopting a critical way of talking to ourselves. Your style of self-talk develops in childhood and becomes an ingrained habit and colors the way you see and interact with the world. It also can exacerbate or minimize your stress level, depending on how you talk to yourself. If you’ve developed a negative self-talk style or a pessimistic world view, you can be missing opportunities, performing below your potential, and experiencing events as more stressful than they need to be. Fortunately, you can develop a more optimistic style of self-talk and build a habit of positive thinking by taking small steps today. The following resources can help you to better understand the way you see the world and, if need be, make changes so that you’re performing to your best with minimal stress. Negative Self Talk: Learn how negative self-talk affects your stress level. Optimism Self Test: Many people think they’re optimists, but they don’t possess the hallmark features in an optimistic thought process. Test your thinking style to see where you stand. Positive Self Talk: Learn how to change the way you talk to yourself, think and interpret events in your life. 7 Find Time for Yourself It's important to find time alone for self care. Here's how. Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images It’s important for women, including mothers, to take regular time to do things that nurture our souls and keep us feeling alive; if we don’t, we could face burnout, and we won’t be as helpful to others in our lives anyway. A regular stress management practice is a must, and it can come in the form of a hobby, a type of exercise, a tension-taming practice, or some other habit, but it's important to make time for such things that can keep you feeling your best. The following are some important resources to help you find a regular stress relief practice: Choosing a Healthy New Habit: Perhaps the easiest way to stick with a new stress relief habit is to pick one that best fits your personality and lifestyle. This test will point you to the stress relievers that are best for you. Sticking With a Said Habit: Once you’ve chosen a stress management technique to incorporate into your lifestyle, these tips will help you make it a habit. Self-Care Strategies: These ideas will help you pamper yourself for a change. 8 Safeguard Your Sex Life Finding time and energy for intimacy can help with stress relief, too. Tom Merton/Getty Images With the busy schedules women keep these days, whether working full-time, staying home with children, or going to school, women are often exhausted at the end of the day. Because of this, sex sometimes takes a backseat to everything else in life, especially for women. However, whether you are too busy to meet someone, too frazzled to work on your relationship, or just plain too exhausted for sex, it’s important to make sex and your romantic life a priority too. The following resources can help: How to Get in the Mood When StressedIf your libido wanes when the stress is on, this article is for you! (Your partner will thank you.) The Stress Relief Benefits of SexLearn why sex itself can be a great stress reliever, for those who feel too stressed for sex. The Relationships SectionIf you’re neglecting the relationship you’re in, these resources can help you to maintain relationship health. 9 Avoid Unhealthy Coping Habits Binge eating when stressed is one of the many unhealthy ways people cope. Fuse/Getty Images Women, too, are prone to dealing with stress in less-than-healthy ways, such as drinking to excess and smoking. And emotional eating among women is nothing new. Fortunately, women tend to have a great ability for introspection, so if you find yourself falling into unhealthy coping habits, examining the roots of your stress and changing your way of handling stress is a great idea for you. See these resources for more information on unhealthy coping habits, and find resources for a healthier lifestyle. Unhealthy Responses to Stress and How They Affect You The following are five of the most common unhealthy ways people respond to stress, their effects on you, and resources for healthier coping.Introspective Stress RelieversThese stress relievers allow you to look within and examine the roots of your stress so you can change and eliminate it at its roots By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.