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Dealing with stress and emotions makes women more resilient

Dubai-based psychologist explains the difference between men and women when dealing with stress, emotions and pressure

Along with emotional intelligence, admitting stress is another key reason that helps women deal with pressure better than men.

Dubai: Women’s skills to manage stress and emotional difficulties is one of the reasons they tend to outlive men.

Dr Saliha Afridi (right), clinical psychologist and managing director at Lighthouse Arabia, told Gulf News that psychologically, women are socialised to understand their feelings, verbalise them, and share them with their friends and loved ones.

With that, they are able to better deal with stress, which is related to over 80 per cent of all health issues and one of the leading causes of death.

“Men on the other hand are told from a very young age that ‘big boys don’t cry’ and thus, they never really understand their feelings, and don’t feel safe to share them with others. They are not socialised to understand their emotions so they deny them or repress them,” said Dr Afridi.

She pointed out that while women might share with their partners, men have to be ‘the man’ of the house and maintain a strong front. “This repressing and denying of feelings is a major factor in them feeling the negative effects of stress, resulting in far more health issues, and higher mortality rates,” said Dr Afridi.

Along with emotional intelligence, admitting stress is another key reason that helps women deal with pressure better than men.

“Women will admit that they are stressed and this will allow them to get the support they need faster. They will change their diets and lifestyle because they realise that they are stressed,” said Dr Afridi.

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Men, on the other hand, think they are doing enough to manage their stress and typically are not doing enough. “They tend to use alcohol and/or sex to self-medicate and relieve stress,” she added.

Pressures to provide for family also contributes to the amount of stress on a man.

Dr Afridi explained that although this is shifting slightly, men are still considered to be the primary breadwinner of the family. “Financial difficulties, paying for rent, schooling all typically falls on the shoulders of a man. This amount of pressure combined with the other factors mentioned puts a lot of stress on men, emotionally and psychologically,” she said.

This causes higher pressures, and men are not groomed to deal with the emotions that come with them.

Research has also shown that men tend to have higher emotional reactions to difficult life events than women. “This has to do with biology (soothing hormones), in addition to a sense of confidence and familiarity women have to deal with difficult events (ie a crying baby, relationship difficulties),” explained Dr Afridi.

She pointed out that admitting weakness also contributes to a women’s strength. Women have an easier time admitting that they need help — whether it is for a physical ailment or emotional support. This helps them get “intervention, treatment and support faster,” said Dr Afridi.

When it comes to biology, hormones play a role in allowing women to be able to soothe themselves faster.

“Psychologically, women have better coping skills, higher emotional intelligence, and deeper attachments to their loved ones. Sociologically, women are better conditioned to understand, verbalise and get help for their difficulties — putting less stress on their physical and mental body,” added Dr Afridi.