Stress affects women so severely, it can turn into physical ailments

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Posted at 7:54 AM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 17:16:08-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Stress affects women differently than men and after living through this pandemic; many women are complaining of an overwhelming sense of stress and burnout.

A mind-body health specialist told ABC Action News' Wendy Ryan about the need to make self-care a priority or that stress can turn into physical ailments.

"I hear from so many women who feel so worthless and guilty because they see images on Instagram or other social media, where they believe that other people have it all together," said Dr. Michele Kambolis, author and mind-body health specialist.

She warns that because we're online now more than ever, social media takes a toll on our mental health.

"The impact of technology on our brain system is really significant. So we're inundated with information and the brain doesn't shut off. It's impacting our sleep and also our self-esteem," she explained.

And those online images, along with the after-effects from this pandemic, have created new levels of stress, especially for women. The stress can then manifest into physical symptoms.

"They might have headaches, stomach aches, sleep problems. In fact, they're twice as likely to have a sleep disturbance than what men would describe," she said.

Many women say they feel an overwhelming expectation to do even more which creates an emotional burden and feelings of powerlessness.

"In our culture, we reward women for being selfless. And so women often feel a tremendous amount of guilt when they try and take some time for themselves and practice self-care," she said.

But Kambolis said you need to take care of yourself anyway, teaching the body how to calm the mind.

"Our breath is probably the most potent medicine when it comes to activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming part of our nervous system. So just simply taking a low and slow breath and extending the exhale, can send calming neural chemicals throughout the body," she explained.

And if you don't take care of yourself, know that your children are watching and learning from you.

"If you're struggling to make those changes for yourself, and you have other people in your life that you really, really want to be there for, do it for them too," she said.

Kambolis also said if your stress level and anxiety are affecting your everyday life, it's time to see a doctor.

She's written a new book, "When Women Rise: Everyday Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Body, and Soul"