Women and Stress: Unplug From Media as a Health Priority
Heads Up, Lady—You Need Vacay. Women and stress go hand in hand. Think about it. A stress-free, all-expense-paid vacation. Do you see the waterfall, the beach, the pool, the vista?
Relax into the comfy lounger while the breeze, redolent of beautiful flowers, wafts through your hair. Of course, an ecstatic cabana boy or hostess serves you something icy with an umbrella and a wedge of pineapple.
Nothing to do but rest, relax, and follow your nose. Make pictures out of cloud patterns. La-de-dah. Maybe a mani-pedi tomorrow. Or not. Whatever.
Breathe a sigh of relief and feel the tensions evaporate. Life’s colors become more vibrant as you settle into being here now.
Your balcony opens to an infinity pool. There are mountains across the bay. Room service. Slowly, you realize that the earth did not stop spinning without your constant attention.
You might need to buy another suitcase to haul your new Jimmy Choo-Louboutin-Blahniks-MiuMiu-Weitzman shoes back home. And a boho sundress or two. Just enough room for a few silk scarves, and a T-shirt or three.
More than idle fantasy, Science makes it clear, people need “vacay.” Especially American women.
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.” – Tim Kreider, NY Times
Women and Stress: Science finds that vacations improve the immune system.
Slows aging. Enhances creativity. Sharpens work performance. Increases productivity.
That’s some powerful benefits. Can you see yourself in the vacay mode yet?
After a 5-day vacation, people’s biomarkers improve—inflammation markers decline, aging processes slow down, and telomerase activity increases to improve cellular longevity. Women who meditate experienced the most benefit, even months after the vacation.
In 1960, only 20% of American women worked. Homemaking and raising children were two full-time jobs. And raising a spouse added a third. Today, 70% of American women work. Problem is, they still maintain responsibility for homemaking, raising children, and helping a spouse.
In Natural Medicine, we have the concept of the “Earth Mother” – the woman who does everything for everybody but herself. Her life is all about sacrificing herself to make everyone else’s life work well. There’s even a special type of suicidal despair, “Well, I’d kill myself, except my children need me.”
Science quantifies stress via adrenal hormones, inflammation, and altered cellular metabolic behaviors. Behavioral sciences document the impact of stress on brain function, mood, and fulfillment. The message is clear: Everyone needs to take a break from the rat race and re-engage their true values.
There are scientific discussions that American women are losing their balance in the art of living. In the competitive workforce, many women do not use their vacation time, choosing instead to work-work-work.
Women and Stress: The USA is the most overworked nation in the world.
And American women lead the pack with work stress.
Unexpectedly contradicting the original concept, technology has increased the amount of time people work.
Politics. In the last two years, American women report that they feel even more stressed and cite politics. A primary factor—the use and abuse of media. Social media and internet browsing, cause a considerable increase in angst. Among Democrats, 76% report feeling stressed about the future of the country. Among Republicans, 59% report the same stress.
In a country dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the metrics are not supporting the actions.
Much of this stress is trumped up by the media to keep people’s attention on minutia while Google, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica become the controlling puppet masters. It’s not stress that kills us. It’s our reaction to it. People react to stress.
Datamining reveals a person’s fears.
The media plays on those fears to grab and hold people’s attention and to generate preordained behaviors. For women, stress and angst drive predictable action.
Media In Your Face. On waking, the husband says to his wife, “Good morning, my love.” The wife, holding her cell phone, replies, “Another baby was left in a hot car and died. What’s wrong with people? And there’s been another shooting.”
Toxic Food. Toxic News. Newsfeeds are compelled to bring the latest tragedy to your cell phone and keep it coming. Science reports that constant focus (breaking news updates) cause viewers to experience more stress than was experienced by the people personally present for a tragic event.
Fear of terrorism, worry about police violence against minorities, and concerns about personal safety have increased to new levels. Talking heads keep the inanities of “situations” ever-present in people’s minds, looping the same tragedy over and over with “important” updates.
Soap Box Opera. That’s just the way it is right now. The soap opera of life goes on. So, what can you do to balance the scales? [There are key insights in the quirkyhealthtips.com “Mind & Spirit” section!]
Vacay To The Rescue.
Well, one idea, in case you haven’t thought of it, is to take a vacation. Unwind. Examine and refine your life—away from an internet connection. Delete what steals your joy. Have some fun. Come alive!
If you are concerned about your level of stress, inflammation, and health; now is the best time to take action. “Okay!” you say.
Then practicality sets in. It’s a cardinal virtue to be practical, right? So what do you do? Do you spend some money on yourself? Do you feel that’s being selfish?
Do you fund that overpriced insurance policy instead? Contribute more to the college fund for the kids? Hire a K-Pop band to play your daughter’s bat mitzvah? Buy the baby an iPhone/Android?
Maybe you pay an expensive CPA to do your taxes so the IRS won’t freeze your bank account and take your mother’s furniture. What if you’re the only one who can’t make any sense out of a million-page tax code of double talk and convoluted loopholes?
Women and Stress: Vacation is A Health Priority.
It’s a matter of priorities. In some countries, a month’s paid vacation every year is mandatory. In the European Union, 20 days is the minimum. One to six months of paid maternity leave for all parents is compulsory in many countries. Science says that it’s better for the baby.
WASP Work Ethic.
In the USA, many people feel such behaviors are lazy and for free-loaders. That’s the problem. They’re not. They are essential to health, wellbeing, and productivity for yourself and others.
If you plan a vacation every six months and put it on your calendar, chances are fair-to-midland that you’ll attend. You know that you are worth it. After all, everyone depends on you!
In the meantime, Science suggests that reading a book for fun can get your mind off of worries and have a positive impact on stress. A self-designed spa session in your bathtub can help you disengage from the blathering media’s preoccupation with death and injustice.
Hans Selye, the researcher who studied the effects of stress on the body and mind, gave us hope and fair warning: “Stress is not necessarily something bad. It all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation, or infection is detrimental”.
There’s a half-price ticket to somewhere. If air travel is too stressful with scanners and cavity searches, there’s a hiking trail somewhere within biking/driving distance.
After all, you must FIRST take care of yourself to be most effective at helping others.
By WellnessWiz Jack
P.S. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
 “Stress in America.” American Psychological Association. 15 Feb 2017.
 Kaliman, Perla; et al. “Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators.” Psychoneuroendocrinology. Feb. 2014. http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530(13)00407-1/abstract.
 Purcell, Rainie, Email and the Internet Are the Dominant Technological Tools in American Workplace, Pew Research Center, 30 Dec, 2014
 Holman, E. Alison; et al. “Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings.” PNAS. 7 Jan 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890785/.
 Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan, 2012.
Love this article. And who doesn’t love vacations?! I know I could use to put down the ol’ phone and focus on staying present in the moment more. Thanks for the reminder!
There’s more and more research demonstrating that too much attention on phones, pads, and computers disturbs the brain. Even taking a few days’ break from electronic devices can be a vacay from the norm and give the brain time to reboot and the body time to reconnect with the natural rhythms of life.
Just don’t require everyone to be the same. To me, travel is extremely stressful, definitely not my idea of a vacation! I make the sacrifice to go places with my wife for her good; but the entire time we’re out, I’m just wishing we were back home. I try to hide that fact so I don’t ruin things for her, but I think she can see through my act, to some extent. My idea of a good vacation is to have a low time in my work that gives me more time to go on long (50-100 miles) bicycle rides or work on my own fun projects. I think people are stressed because they set themselves up for it, trying to make more money, or keeping the kids in soccer, ballet, whatever (and in so doing, stressing them, too) instead of letting them have unstructured play like building forts and riding bike. (No video games or TV!) There are ways to live on less, and enjoy it, not drive so hard, and enjoy the more stress-free life. I’m nearly 60 and have no ambition to retire.
Nice to smell the roses along life’s many pathways.
Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!