Why Do Women Cope With Stress A Lot Better than Men
Have you had a bad day? Feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? How have you reacted to the stress of your day; by speaking to your nearest and dearest or simply keeping your feelings to yourself? The answer to that question, according to research, has a lot to do with your gender.
It’s been (unsurprisingly) found that, women tend to deal with stress by seeking emotional support from others. This general habit is considered as being down to evolution and goes hand in hand with the fact that women are found to also nurture those around them. These particular behavior patterns have been coined by researchers as “tend and befriend”.
The “tend and befriend” behavior pattern is said to be a holdover from times long ago, when we had to protect ourselves from a whole range of deadly predators while residing in caves. The well known “fight or flight” classic stress response model is similar to this. For example, in times gone by, if a predator such as an aggressive wolf gave us a sense of being in danger, our body would release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This, as a result, would spark the the “fight or flight” response – speeding up our heartbeat and enabling faster response times.
Our brains are still wired up in the same way, therefore causing these reactions in response to stress even today. However, when women are stressed and have these physical responses to it they are more likely than their male counterparts to seek and give emotional support from others. Researchers state this is also down to being an evolutionary holdover, as if a women was put in a stressful situation thousands of years ago (and felt fear and stress due to a predator) they would seek to find a group of others in order to gain greater protection – whereas males may have fought the predator off.
It may seem unbelievable that such a primitive function is still active in the female brain today – but it explains why women tend to protect and comfort each other through nurturing behaviors, relevant to the “tend and befriend” theory researchers have found. Women are also found to form alliances with other social groups (in particular women) as a way to seek out support much more than men are. As an example, the online forum “MumsNet” is a large social group that women go to to discuss issues and advise each other.
It has been found then when women are under stress, they release hormones which may explain this notion. Along with stress hormones, women also release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is said to be connected to maternal feelings, breast feeding and loving emotions. Therefore, reducing the fear she is experiencing. This, as a result, encourages a female to seek out support from others. Men do also produce oxytocin but in much smaller amounts, and the other male hormones released lessen its effects.
Ultimately, women are able to deal with stress a lot better than men due to their ability to seek support and guidance from others.