Hidden Stress & Illness in Women
- Author Zack Walter
- Published March 20, 2020
- Word count 1,062
This month is Women’s History Month, and as discussions of women’s importance spread, so too do discussions of women’s health. Throughout history, there have been certain risks and conditions that affect women more so than men. Many of these risks are influenced by a multitude of factors, including stress and mental health.
Many women suffer from undue stress and feeling the need to hold it in or minimize their own needs can not only cause mental health issues but can make physical health issues worse as well. To help raise awareness of women’s health, Red River ER wants to talk about how women, and those in their lives, can help to alleviate the harmful stress they might experience.
When we find ourselves overwhelmed or feeling unwell, many of us might try to hide it. Whether we don’t want to worry anyone around us or we’re trying to power through a difficult work week, anyone can mask sniffles, coughs, or an achy feeling from time to time.
Women, though, are more likely to hide their illnesses frequently, which can increase their health risks. Traditionally, women are seen as caretakers in the family, and this preconception makes them more likely to try "toughing it out" instead of seeking care. Whether it be working long shifts during a cold or even hiding symptoms of the flu and pretending that they are fine, many women will try to work through infections.
When women hide their sickness, they can make themselves more likely to be seriously ill in the future. Hiding symptoms can make it harder to tell when a cough is just a cold or something serious like bronchitis. This makes it crucial for not only women to properly care for themselves, but also for friends and family members to encourage women to get the rest they need.
What Stress Impacts
While it is easy to see how hiding symptoms of an illness can be bad for your health, it might be harder to tell why stress is such an influential factor. After all, everyone feels stressed sometimes, and small amounts of stress can be natural motivations for people to get things done. But not all stress is normal, and when someone feels overwhelmed, it is important that they have an outlet or people to confide in.
Similar to the tendency to hide symptoms of common illnesses, many women are also prone to hiding severe stress. When women feel overwhelmed or especially stressed about something, they may try to carry on as if everything is fine. This can be harmful to mental health as well as physical health, as unresolved stress can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of serious conditions like heart attacks or strokes.
How to Encourage Wellness
-When a woman in the family feels overwhelmed, offer a supportive ear. Exhibit sympathy and remind women in your life that they are not a burden on others and that their feelings are important. This will help them to open up and not feel overly worried about confiding in loved ones.
-If a woman in your life seems to be getting sick, express your concern to them. Tell them that you want to make sure they’re all right and offer to help take care of them. Spouses can offer to step in with parental duties and large chores around the house while children can offer to take on extra small chores so that the women most important in their lives can have an opportunity to rest and heal.
-Women should be more vocal about their needs when they are sick or feeling overly stressed. It can be challenging for some, but it is important to remember that maintaining your health and wellness is part of maintaining the health and wellness of your entire family. Women shouldn’t be afraid to speak up when they need to rest and should ask their loved ones for help when they feel overwhelmed by stress.
-Take time for self-care. This goes beyond just taking medicine or sleeping in when you have the flu; it should be built into your weekly routine. Self-care are small ways that women can take care of their body and their stress levels regularly. It can be as small as 15 minutes of meditation or as big as an at-home spa day, but no matter what self-care technique you try, it is important to make that personal relaxation a priority.
-Find healthy outlets. To help manage stress, find a healthy outlet when you feel pent up or overwhelmed. This can be something like participating in a sport or physical activity. It can be engaging in arts and crafts. Anything that helps someone let out their stress in a safe environment can be good ways to manage overwhelming stress.
-Make positive changes in your life. If frequent stress is an issue for you, then it might be time to make changes to your schedule. Women should look at their daily routines if they feel frequently overwhelmed and talk with their loved ones about how to make positive changes. It could be shifting household chores or cutting out certain activities which have become stressful. Women altering the things in their lives that they can control goes a long way to improving stress levels.
Since it is so important for women to not only express their stress and get the TLC they need while they’re sick, there are things that everyone in the family can do to help. Friends, family, and women themselves can all try some of the following to help lighten the load of internalized stress and illness:
Making women and their wellbeing a priority in your home can go a long way to helping with stress relief and proper care for illnesses. When everyone in the family knows how to be aware, they can work together to make sure that mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and even friends take care of themselves.
Red River ER supports every woman in our community as they find ways to eliminate stress in their lives and work towards better self-care. In the case of emergencies, our facility is open 24/7 with highly trained doctors and nurses ready to give you the best in concierge-level care. Our convenient location offers compassionate care when your family, and the women in it, need it most.
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