Is Stress a Feminist Issue?

I want to talk a little bit more about stress. Not because I am super stressed out (which I am not after spending all of Monday in my PJs, watching an X Files marathon), but because I do think that stress is a feminist issue. Not a uniquely feminist issue, per se, but a feminist issue nonetheless. Women experience stress differently than men do, and it affects their bodies differently. We’re also given many external stressors that men don’t necessarily have. (For proof, check out the latest Atlantic cover. Now, not only are we wondering whether or not we can have it all, we’re faced with wondering how long we can wait before having babies. Turns out the actual article tells us we have longer than we think, but that didn’t stop my heart from twisting up thinking about my ticking biological clock before I checked page 54.)

Societal stress can also affect women in different ways than men. For example, I have not cleaned my house in two weeks. OK, that’s not entirely true. What I haven’t done is vacuumed. Why, you ask? Because we are getting new floors installed on Monday and I A) Believe such an activity to be fruitless when the carpets are hitting the curb anyway; and B) The boxes of my new floors are sitting in my front room (formerly – and future-ly – my Lady Cave) making it effectively impossible. Most people would laud my luck at my reprieve from carpet-cleaning but I feel a bit differently. Society (and Pinterest) has more or less told me that, if my house doesn’t look perfect all the time, I’m a failure. So, in place of being stressed about vacuuming, I’m now stressed about not vacuuming. WE JUST CAN’T WIN!

Marketers are on to this, too. What better way to relieve stress than a day at the spa (which you will stress out about if for no other reason than the dent in your wallet) or a shopping spree (see above) or a new-fangled contraption that vacuums for you without any interference from you at all (which will stress you out because it will inevitably not work or it is very expensive in which case, see above).

So how do we deal with stress as women if we are not to fall prey to marketers? I’m a big fan of sitting on my couch in my PJs watching television, but, as I discussed yesterday, that’s not very sustainable. Here are some other options I love:

  • Yoga – Yoga is great because not only are you working all of your muscles and your breathing to ensure ultimate relaxation at the end, but you are also getting a workout. That’s what I call a win-win.
  • Blogging or updating social media – Sometimes you just want someone to know how stressed out you are and like your status update, and that’s OK. We talk a lot about over-sharing on social media, but if you just need a bit of quick camaraderie, Facebook can do that for you and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Baths – Baths are awesome. Seriously, if you have a tub, use it. Put in some salts or essential oils and grab a good book and a glass of wine. There is very little that can’t be melted away with this combo.
  • Healthy eating – When I get stressed, I eat. Mostly what I eat are pizzas. I really love pizza, and it makes me really happy (until later when it makes me very sad as I’m literally watching my face break out before my eyes). Finding healthy comfort foods can save you a lot of stress later, and can make your body happy.
  • Tea – Just smelling ginger tea can lift your mood, and drinking it can improve your digestion. Chamomile tea is also very calming. White and green teas are filled with antioxidants and the caffeine in them is minimal and also calms you rather than makes you jittery like coffee. Plus, who doesn’t love a zero-calorie, hot beverage after a crappy day?
  • And wine. Always wine.

Now it’s your turn. As a woman, how do you experience stress differently than your male counterparts? What are your favorite ways to relieve stress? 

Featured Image Credit: chmeredith

2 thoughts on “Is Stress a Feminist Issue?

  1. You’re wrong about one thing… my Roomba is amazing. It doesn’t stress me out at all. It doesn’t clean perfectly but it does keep me from having to vacuum every weekend. Now I only vacuum for company.

    I do think that vacuuming stress disproportionately affects women. Like fearing we’ll be judged on how clean our house is. I know before we got married my husband’s house was gross (two guys living there) and he was never stressed out about it. Me, I scrub the kitchen every weekend.

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