Gender Differences in Reactions to Stress Term Paper

Pages: 5 (2087 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Stress is a major problem for people and it serves as a leading cause of certain physical illnesses. Over the years researchers have found that men and women have different sources of stress and that the sexes cope with stress differently. The purpose of this discussion is to Gender differences in reaction to Stress

The main sources of stress for both men and women are work and family life. Other stresses may include illness, catastrophic disaster, death of a loved one, and so on. However research has found that men and women perceive stress differently. Research has found that women experience more stress as it pertains to Family/Parenting, social situations and academics while men tend to experience a great deal of stress as it pertains to finances and being providers (Day & Livingstone, 2003).

Basically the research has found that when coping with stress women tend to seek social and/or emotional support more than do men (Day & Livingstone, 2003). For example, if a woman is experiencing stress she may turn to friends or family to discuss the source of the stress and to seek support and advice on how to deal with the stress. In addition studies have found that women are more likely to seek emotional support when they are experiencing a stressful situation. In other words women are more likely to discuss how they feel and express their emotional feelings to other people.

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On the other hand, men tend to react to stress by seeking out "informational and instrumental" types of support. That is men try to figure out a "technical" solution to the source of the stress. For instance, if a man is feeling stressed as it pertains to a catastrophic event such as a Tornado or Hurricane, his first instinct might be to figure out how to rebuild the house, getting supplies, and so forth. A man may feel the emotional loss associated with the destruction but would be more likely to deal with the loss by focusing on rebuilding or repairing what was lost.

Are differences Biological or Environmental?

TOPIC: Term Paper on Gender Differences in Reactions to Stress Assignment

The research on this topic suggests that the differences in reaction to stress are both biological and environmental. As it pertains to women, research has found that environmental factors associated with social norms contribute greatly to the manner in which women cope with stress. According to Day & Livingstone, 2003

Differences in the utilization of social support by men and women may be a result of their socialization experiences. That is, women have been socialized to confide in others, whereas men have been socialized to be independent and to refrain from expressing emotions (Day & Livingstone, 2003)."

In a situation in which a woman is experiencing stress of the job, she might turn to co workers and friends for support. She may seek their advice as it pertains to how to deal with the situation. The woman may also seek feedback to determine whether or not she is overreacting to the situation. Iwasaki et al., (2005). Also reports that women are more likely to work longer and harder when they are experiencing stress on the job.

In addition to social support, women are also socialized in a manner that permits them to show and discuss their emotions. Therefore emotional support is also one of the ways that women deal with stress. Women often look to others for comfort at times when they feel stressed or overwhelmed as a result of their circumstances.

In addition to the environmental factors that contribute to women's reactions to stress there are also some biological issues that can account for differences between the manner in which men and women react to stress. For instance, as it pertains to stresses related to parenting, women have certain biological instincts associated with nurturing and motherhood. As a result of this biology women tend to seek the support of other mothers who are experiencing the same stresses that are deeply imbedded in the biology of women.

As it pertains to men, coping with stress involves more internal resolutions. This means of coping is also biological and social (Iwasaki et al., 2005). For instance, if a man is experiencing stress on the job, he might be more likely to attempt to figure out what exactly he is doing wrong and consider things such as time management and ways to become more efficient. This reaction to stress on the job can be correlated to socialization and biology. Men are socialized to handle themselves in a manner that is independent. From a biological perspective men also tend to compartmentalize and focus on how to solve the problem.

In addition, men are more likely to deal with stress in a manner that is internal because are not as social as women. Again there are environmental and biological reasons for this difference. Again men are socialized to handle problems in an independent manner. In addition, social support requires discussion and studies have shown that men have biological differences as it pertains to how the different genders communicate and these differences can be seen early in life (Melville, 2006). Studies have shown that gender differences in communication are associated with the manner in which the brain processes language (Melville, 2006). Men are less likely to seek social support because it may require communicating in a way that they are uncomfortable with (Nazario). For instance if a man is having a difficult time with a coworker or a boss he might not know how to articulate the problem and come to a solution.

In addition men are socially conditioned not to display emotions such as sadness or hurt (Nazario). Men are often socialized to believe that the only emotion that they can display is anger. Because this is the case men are less likely to seek emotional support because they do not want to be perceived as weak. For example if a man is dealing with a stressful family situation he may not be as will to display his emotions and discuss his feelings as it pertains to the situation. Unfortunately this can lead to health problems, violence and substance abuse when stress is not dealt with properly

Successful men coping with stress by over-drinking," 2008).

Four Week Strategy

Now that we have garnered a greater understanding of how men and women cope with stress, let us discuss a four-week plan for dealing with stress based on gender.

Strategy for men

Week One: Pinpoint the source of the stress (i.e work, family, illness). Once the source of the stress has been identified, determine the best course of action for man to deal with the stress. The plan of action may be slightly different depending on the source of the stress. Also coping mechanisms may differ depending on the amount stress the man is dealing with.

Week two: If the source of the stress is something that can be dealt with internally, Men can pursue this outlet. If the male is only able or ready to cope with stress on an internal level reading book on how to deal with the stress may be beneficial. However, if the man finds that the stress is severe and not something that can be handled internally, the male may benefit from the counsel of a male friend or counselor. This will facilitate communication in a way that will not overwhelm the male. Also seeking support from another male may be more likely to occur because the stressed male will be able to relate to the male friend or counselor. Also men have to be willing to show their emotions and be vulnerable if they really want to deal with the stress and the source of the stress. The male should implement the strategies suggested by the male friend or counselor.

Week Three: Observe and identify whether or not the suggestions are working. If they are not working, explain this to the friend or counselor and receive feedback. Use this feedback to better cope with the situation.

Week Four: The stressed male should be able to better cope with the situation and would have developed coping strategies that will assist him in the future.

Strategy for Women

Week One: Pinpoint the source of the stress (i.e work, family, illness). Once the source of the stress has been identified, determine the best course of action for the woman to deal with the stress. The plan of action may be slightly different depending on the source of the stress. Also coping mechanisms may differ depending on the amount stress the woman is confronting.

Week two: Identify and get assistance from the proper social support whether it be family, coworkers or a counselor. Make certain that the social support system is trusted and that the advice given is sound. Women must also make sure that have the emotional support needed to cope with the stress they are experiencing. Implement all of the strategies that the social support system suggests.

Week Three: Once the strategies have been implemented, share the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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