It’s quite common for us as women to become uneasy about the way our male counterparts deal with stressful situations. We might think “why doesn’t he care”, or “why’s he acting like a big baby”. Well in such situations it can be useful to understand the underlying attributes which contribute to male behaviour patterns.
What is stress
For the most part stress is a subjective feeling. A lot of the times we throw around the term “I’m stressed out” without giving deeper thought to what being stressed actually means. According to stress.org.uk
“stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion.”
Stress is often associated with a negative experience; however it can be argued that without feeling stressed we would lack the ability to strive to survive. The two main ways of dealing with stress are fight and flight. The fight method is where our bodies go into reactive mode and we begin to fight stress. This results in us feeling short-tempered, easily frustrated, and agitated. The second method is flight, this is where we chose to remove ourselves from stressful situations. This can be effective when trying to protect ourselves, but in the long-term without dealing with such situations stress can build up forcing us to face it.
Men, Stress, and Hormones
Now that we’ve covered the underlying meaning of stress, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog – it’s useful to understand how we deal with it. The three stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and oxytocin are contributing factors to how men and women handle stress. Huffingtonpost.com states that, cortisol and epinephrine lower immunities and raise blood pressure. Oxytocin softens the reaction of cortisol and epinephrine by relaxing the emotions. As men release a lower amount of oxytocin their reaction to cortisol and epinephrine is stronger than women.
Women are traditionally emotional beings and natural nurturer. There is great emphasis on relationships for women because feelings of security, self-esteem, and feelings are reliant on them. Generally women act on the fight method of stress.
When it comes to men they are more likely to focus on achieving their goals rather than dealing with emotions. It’s been scientifically proven that men are more competitive and react to situations based off of logic. For a man their best performance and sense of well-being comes from achievements and goals.
Society has also played a huge role in fuelling gender stereotypes. As men are portrayed as the “providers” it’s normal for them to feel more pressure to perform well at work and reach a certain financial status. When these social circumstances are disrupted they can feel failure and isolation and simpler terms “less of a man”. What makes this even more difficult for men is the stigma which comes with a man expressing his emotions.
For women it is normal to have a cry about a failed relationship, or even just a bad day. However for men it’s not so easy. For the most part we want men to open up and be more sensitive and affectionate. But when it becomes too much (which could just mean crying every few months) they become seen as soppy or too emotional. This results in women turning off and men being clowned by their male peers – both harsh knocks to the male ego. Generally men tend to release their stress by indulging in work or activities which require minimal emotional attachments.
These elements combined contribute to the reasons why men repress their feelings and emotions.
The first stress management tip for men would be to talk about their feelings. Society has painted a perception of the “strong man” who doesn’t let anything get to him, who is not emotional, who does not cry. Well guess what, this is a false stereotype. Men, there is nothing wrong with honouring yourselves by letting out your emotions. Chances are you’ll end up feeling better if you do.
There are also alternative methods to help deal with stress. Crystals are a great way to center energies and regain focus. Typically they are associated with women – but again this is a misconception. As Earth elements the use of crystals is not determined by any gender.
If you want to find out more about stress management feel free to leave a comment below.