"Stressed women know it, live it and spend time trying to do something about it. Stressed men, not so much." This is the opening of Sharon Jayson's USA Weekend article, Stress {men and women handle it differently}, which reports on the gender differences found in the American Psychological Association's annual Stress in America survey released on January 11th, 2012.

The APA survey found that that while a large percentage of both men and women recognize the impact of stress on a person's overall health, men are less likely than women to believe that stress is having an impact on their own physical and mental health. The survey found that 36 percent of men say that stress has little or no impact on their physical health whereas only 26 percent of women feel this way.

Men also appear to put less emphasis on the need to manage their stress than women do, believing that they're doing enough about it. Yet, they are significantly more likely than women to be diagnosed with the kinds of chronic physical illnesses that are often linked to high levels of stress and unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to recognize the importance of and need for stress management in their lives, yet they don't feel that they are doing enough when it comes to managing stress. This is despite the fact that women in the survey reported using a multitude of strategies to combat stress, including reading, spending time with family or friends, praying, attending religious services, shopping, getting a massage or visiting a spa, and seeing a mental health professional.

These findings suggest that there are some important gender differences when it comes to stress management, which may have more of an adverse impact on men than on women. However, the overall results of the survey indicate that both genders are at high risk from the negative effects of stress. The APA says that participants' responses "revealed high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress--a combination that suggests the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis." To see the full APA Report as well as compare findings from previous years, click on this link, 2011 Stress In America.

For ideas on effectively managing stress, check out Too Stressed to Manage Your Stress? The Solution May Be Staggering and Refueling Your Engine: Strategies to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burnout. And for women who may be feeling particularly overwhelmed by the multifaceted demands in their lives, consider these articles: Redefining Balance and Superwoman is a Fictional Character.

© 2012 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved

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Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (Prometheus Books, 2011).

About the Author

Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D.

Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., psychologist and author of "High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout," specializes in the area of women and stress.

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