Men vs. Women: Differences in Managing Stress

Category: Men vs. Women Series

Stress cartoon by Randy Glasbergen

Managing stress is one of our biggest challenges in life. There will be stress: that’s a given. There will be tough times: that’s a given. And, there will be good times, too. But most every circumstance will lead to a changed one, whether good or bad. Men and women approach most things in gender-specific fashion as I’ve detailed in this ongoing blog series. Stress is no exception.

Stress symptoms infographic

I will again state my disclaimer that much of what I state in these blogs about the differences between men and women fits in the generality category. Every generality has its exception; so don’t beat me up over the one or two men or women that you happen to know who live contrary to these generalities. Beat me up where you think I’m wrong or, if you’re a Woman’s Studies professor, I invite you to have a debate with me, on radio or online or in a back-and-forth blog post (see my Journalism debate with Professor Kenna Griffin).

Unlike many of the topics in this series, where there may be more similarities rather than differences, I sincerely believe that men and women truly handle stress in completely different fashions. Herewith, my list of examples:

~~ Men will often let out their frustrations in an aggressive manner. Men like to hit things. Men like to let it OUT in a physical fashion. Of course, I’m not speaking of any physical abuse to another person unless it’s in a supervised fashion such as boxing or wrestling. Guys will go for a run, hit the weight room, whack a bucket of balls on the golfing range etc.

Stress cartoon by Randy Glasbergen

I have a personal example that has stuck in my mind for literally decades. The irony – and there’s a clear lesson here – is that I don’t remember the “stress factor” that motivated the reaction. All I remember is that I was in my early twenties and really pissed off. I paced around my apartment, all wound up, while rain was pouring outside.

Finally, I put on my running clothes and headed out in the downpour for a run. I had a regular path I usually ran. This time, I kept on going. And going. And going. I was completely soaked when I got back home after running somewhere in the neighborhood of ten miles. But, I felt better.

~~ Women will talk or shop or do both when they are stressed. This is clearly two-in-one since talking and shopping could certainly go together but mostly they are separate actions.

Stress up close diagram

I absolutely do not intend this to be a funny cliché. Women do like to shop and, if they or their partners can afford this indulgence, then so be it. If it helps to relax them when they’re stressed out, I’m all for it…except for my wife, of course.

As for talking, let’s face it – women do like to talk about their problems. And, if they’re facing real stress, their first instinct is to reach out to their girl friends. This is a good thing. Men need other men, but tend to keep things inside too often, too much.

~~ Continuing not in alternating order, let’s agree that women also will turn to exercise for stress release. However, their choice of exercise will often be exercise classes, running/jogging, and my all-time favorite: yoga. Yoga, Yoda. It’s all otherworldly to me!

Stress points diagram

Women like yoga. Men don’t. Okay, I’ve said it. I did yoga for a long time – way back in the day when Bikram was teaching at his one and only school in the heart of Beverly Hills. I hated it. Except for the fact that the heated room forced all of us to wear the least amount of clothes that were legally acceptable. So, I suffered the incredible views of the wonderful women in his classes while I struggled to touch my knees.

~~ Sticking with the women, they will also see signs better than the men. They will recognize that the universe is telling them something. Often, that something, is simply needed Down Time.

The whole notion of needed down time is probably equally violated by men and women. But, women may recognize that need while still ignoring it. Men probably will deny the need, and of course ignore it.

Stress cartoon featuring the Mona Lisa

This image may not be right “on point” but it sure is funny!

~~ So, what do men do when they are facing high stress in their lives beyond beating up the punching bag? Some drink, do drugs, or party in other ways (strip clubs).

Again, I find writing these blogs tends to bring out the more negative traits of men while seemingly celebrating women’s wisdom in handling life issues. I most certainly don’t want to give that impression though I am fond of saying that men are slugs. While I’m over-generalizing I might as well veer completely off topic and assert that women are overly emotional creatures.

How do you handle stress? Does any of what I’ve written resonate with you?

Stress isn't funny

Please read and/or comment on any of the other columns in the Men vs. Women series.

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