How to Prevent Stress and Care for Yourself as a Career WomanJul 28, 2021
From long days at the office to anxiety induced by an upcoming presentation, every career woman knows what it’s like to feel stress. While some stress can be a good (and even motivating) force, too much stress can be debilitating and affect you physically.
Especially considering that women were more likely than men to report feeling a “great deal of stress” in a study, it’s clear that women are facing a “gender stress gap” where a disproportionate amount of women vs. men are feeling stress about things like work, relationships, and even household chores and duties. Here are some ways to beat that gender stress and burnout gap as a working woman and ensure you’re taking proper care of yourself.
1. Identify Your Stressors
Though some days, the smallest thing (like your pen not working or stubbing your toe) could set you off, try to identify the biggest stressors in your day-to-day life. This will help you see why these things are causing you to stress to adjust your stress response accordingly (more on that in a moment).
To identify these main causes of stress, think back on the root of your stress. For example: have you recently been assigned to a big project at work, causing you to push all of your other duties back and work longer hours? Have you recently had a falling out with your difficult boss or coworker, causing friction in the workplace?
2. Adjust Your Stress Responses
Now that you’ve been able to identify what causes your stress and why, try to work on how you respond to those sources of stress. It can be tempting to fall apart when you get another email from your boss or scream with frustration when you get assigned another arduous task, but how you respond to stress informs how stress affects you.
Try to adjust your thinking and remind yourself that this stress is temporary, will not last forever, and has a solution. Even if you need to remind yourself with sticky notes or affirmations that you don’t need to stress about the smallest things, you should do what you need to ensure your stress response doesn’t derail your whole day.
3. Ask for Help
Many women find it hard to ask for help or admit that they can’t do something independently. However, it’s important to remember that asking for help is not admitting weakness — if anything, it shows your strength in recognizing that something needs to be done by more than one person.
This applies to many areas of your life that may be causing you stress, not just a work scenario. For example, seeing a licensed mental health professional, talking to your loved ones, or offloading tasks that you cannot feasibly do alone are all encouraged responses to stress.
For example, if going grocery shopping after work is causing you anxiety because of a late deadline, see if you can get your groceries delivered. Or, if a work task is causing you to toss and turn, talk to your manager and see if you can get assistance on it or offload it to someone more qualified.
4. Find Joy to Balance Stress
You can’t be expected to be your best self when you’re sitting in front of a screen and answering work emails all day, so to fight stress, find things to do throughout the workday and workweek that bring you joy. This can be something as small as taking a walk outside on your lunch break or a larger event, like a dinner out with friends.
Giving yourself things to look forward to that aren’t work-related can help give you some much-needed work-life balance. This reminds you that work stress isn’t permanent or as big as it may feel at the moment and can help relax you and take you out of the stress.