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Physical Effects of Stress on Women

by Anna Hart

Posted Apr 27th 2007,
Read 122 times since then.

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The physical effects of stress on women are often discussed, especially among women themselves. Even as they cause themselves by responding with anxiety to the thought of the physical effects of stress on women, they increase those effects. As a woman, I have often sat in a group, each member of which seemed bent on proving that she suffered more physical effects of stress than the others.

Physical Effects of Stress on Women When It Is Distress

Physical effects of stress on women when that stress is negative distress include health concerns such as backache, shoulder and neck pain, headache, migraine, and digestive distresses. The list goes on with insomnia, absence of menstruation, abnormal bleeding during menstruation, pregnancy concerns, and fertility problems. The physical effects of stress on women can be traced to everything from itchy skin to heart disease and cancer.

Those are the physical effects of distress: our detrimental, negative response to unusual demands placed upon us. Those are the effects of stress we hear about most frequently: the negative.

There are other effects of stress on women, however. There are the physical effects of stress that is positive: the effects of eustress.

In the remainder of this article, I want to concentrate on the effects of stress.

Physical Effects of Stress on Women When It Is Eustress

Eustress is positive, beneficial stress. This is the stress you feel when your hard work finally results in a promotion. It is the stress you create when you respond with laughter and intense euphoria to a marriage proposal.

The physical effects of stress on women when that stress is eustress are beneficial, health-giving effects. To understand that line of thinking, we need to look at the meaning of the Greek roots of the word.

The word "eustress" and the word "euphoria" have their first two letters in common. The Greek prefix "eu" indicates a state of happiness. This prefix is one of the basic Greek elements that we need to know to understand much of what we read.

The Greek prefix "eu" refers to that which is good, well, and normal. Words that carry this prefix normally refer to things that are happy and pleasing. For example, "euphoria" is defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as "a feeling of well-being or elation" and is said to come from the Greek prefix "Eu" and the word "pherein" meaning to bear. Euphoria is a good feeling experienced when you bear things happily.

Dividing the word "eustress" into its two syllables, "eu" and "stress," we find that eustress is good, well, normal (eu) stress. Eustress makes you feel good. It makes you euphoric, joyful, merry, and exhilarated. It creates laughter.

A proverb from the Holy Bible has recently been proven scientifically true. That proverb refers directly to the physical effects of stress on women when that stress is eustress.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." The Holy Bible, Proverbs 17:22.

That proverb contrasts eustress and distress. It points out that, on the one hand, eustress, shown by a merry heart, is physically beneficial. Distress, on the other hand, is detrimental to physical health – it dries the bones.

The physical effects of stress on women, when that stress is eustress, are improved health and vitality. It prepares our physical bodies for the manual work they must do. It prepares our minds for decisions and cerebral work.

Two men by the names of Frank Churchill and Larry Morey wrote a little song that featured in Walt Disney's "Snow White" film. Morey's lyrics to "Whistle While You Work" extolled the benefits of eustress. They urged that "when there's too much to do (a stressor)", you shouldn't let it bother you. Rather, wrote Morey, it is smart to whistle while you work. It makes time fly.

Physical effects of stress on women, when that stress is eustress, are beneficial. Women have increased strength and vitality with eustress. Their immune systems are better able to fight off disease. They tend to enjoy better health in every way. They have better physical balance.

While eustress is not a guarantee of safety from disease, its physiological effects do promote better health.

The Choice Is Yours

Many women believe that they have no choice in the matter, but we do. When meeting unusual demands, we can choose to respond negatively (distress) or positively (eustress). We can choose a "merry heart" or a "broken spirit."

In other words, the physical effects of stress on women are determined greatly by women's responses to the demands life makes on them.

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