According To Science Women Feel Stress More Acutely Than Men (Big Surprise)

The facts are in, and to absolutely no woman's surprise, we experience stress at a higher rate than men. According to a poll from Gallup, across all age groups, more women than men report experiencing frequent stress. For many women, this information is not shocking — every day feels like it gives us a new reason to be more stressed. From the daily balancing act of juggling our personal and professional lives to constantly reading about our freedoms being taken away with the growing abortion bans across the U.S., women are grappling with scary situations right now.

Plus, the workplace contributes to a vastly unequal stress environment. According to the Priory Group, stress levels for women in the workplace are 50% higher compared to their male peers. It's believed that though the workplace has continued to advance in equal practices, the societal expectations for women at home have yet to shift similarly.

So are women just destined to constantly be more stressed? Or is there something larger at play? Interestingly enough, it's not just environmental factors that contribute to stress in women, but physical factors as well. Age also influences how we experience stress, with Gen-Z and millennials experiencing it at higher rates than other age groups. Stress feels unavoidable but understanding where it comes from can be the key to managing it.

How women physically experience stress

The brain processes stress differently between men and women. A 2019 report from the Neurobiology of Stress explains that when we all experience stress, our prefrontal cortex will light up. However, in women, it tends to activate the left side of the cortex more, which is tied to emotional regulation. Our brains have a reaction center called the amygdala, which is responsible for our stress response in dangerous situations. The danger sensors of the amygdala are set off for women at much higher rates than men, according to a 2016 study from NeuroImage. This means it is much harder to come down from this danger alert compared to men.

Hormones are also a culprit in how we manage our stress. Women with lower levels of estrogen are more likely to experience elevated stress levels according to SheKnows. Making sure to take time to fully allow your body to decompress and relax, in addition to focusing on hormone-mindful practices — such as your diet and supplements — is a great starting place for helping combat stress on a physical level.

Why Gen-Z and millennials experience more stress

Gen-Z and millennials entered the workforce at truly unprecedented times. With the youngest millennials and eldest Gen-Zers getting their professional careers off the ground amidst a global pandemic and a daunting financial crisis on the horizon, it's no surprise this group experiences stress at higher rates. This age bracket also has higher stress levels surrounding layoffs, reports CNBC. Given their age and lack of professional experience, they are often some of the first employees to get laid off. Finances impact mental health very intensely, so it's no wonder why stress is higher among young adults.

Women in this age bracket are the most vulnerable group to heightened levels of stress. "It's not just mothers who feel they fail to live up to an imaginary feminine ideal. Women have so many arenas in which they can compete: how we look, the quality of our friendships, and, of course, the work we produce," psychiatrist Dr. Judith Mohring told the Priory Group. "Sometimes it can feel that there are just too many ways to fail."

Taking the initiative to make sure you have strong work and home boundaries can be one of the first steps for taking back control of your stress levels. Everything doesn't need to be perfect all the time and learning how to prioritize and ask for help in all aspects of your life is one of the best starting places for beginning your journey to lower your stress levels.