Not all women need a bath and candles when it comes to dealing with stress relief. Many women actually deal with stress quite differently. There are four distinct coping styles. Find your type and learn how to better cope when overcome with stress.
Darlene, Queen of Distraction
Although she has it all together at work, her personal life is often falling apart. Can you relate? Like Darlene, you are probably creative, fun and you crave compliments. You spend so much time having fun that you often neglect mundane tasks such as scheduling doctor appointments, paying bills or forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning after work. The confusion that results can make you frazzled, but you feel okay as long as you have a fan club. No one likes criticism, but for someone like you, a few sharp words can put you over the edge. Fortunately, the same traits that get you into trouble can get you out.
If you are like Darlene, you are already a social butterfly. When you are overwhelmed, the obvious solution is to stop talking and start doing. Although it may seem counterintuitive, spending a few minutes discussing your predicament may get you back on schedule sooner. Take a short coffee break with a friend, get on the phone, or chat online. Entertaining your friends with your latest stories may be your best pick-me-up.
Retail therapy was made for you. You’re the type of person who is easily bored with the same old, same old. Shopping may be a fun, short-term destressor for you and a great way to relieve your boredom. Not to mention a new outfit, hairstyle or room decoration will give you something else to talk about. Just keep it under control and don’t go crazy; buying beyond your means will only add to your stress.
You are probably not fond of the routines that require your home or office to be clutter-free. Those piles of clutter make it more likely for you to lose important papers, glasses or keys. To give yourself an emotional boost, spend five minutes removing what you don’t use, need or love from your workspace. Cleaning to your favorite music will make it fun. Do this daily to prevent stress later.
Cathy, Queen of Control
If you are like Cathy, you work very hard and you put in long hours to advance in your career and personal goals. People often tell you they don’t know how you do it all. You feel like superwoman, as long as people appreciate your efforts and are willing to do things your way. Stress occurs when you lose control over any aspect of your life.
If you have Cathy’s personality, your willingness to take charge means you have a lot to do. When the work stacks up, friends may advise you to take time to relax. It sounds like good advice, but doing less can mean even more stress for someone like you. If your to-do list is too overwhelming, put in a few long days and you will regain your much desired sense of control. You can relax a little when there is a break in your hectic schedule.
You are competent in many areas, so you’re tempted to do everything yourself because it seems easier. You probably are the best person for the job, but doing it alone can result in burnout. Take the time to teach others how to help you. You may not get the work done faster, but you will enjoy being a leader who helps others grow.
You give 110%, but your tendency to take charge and tell it like it is isn’t always appreciated. If your employees, boss or family are behaving like ingrates, you are likely to be resentful. Reserve some of your time for people who respect you. Volunteering your skills may earn you the praise you feel you deserve.
Failure is always stressful, but it is especially trying for a personality like yours. When you can’t win, choose a different goal, one you are likely to achieve.
Patty, Queen of Perfection
Do you aspire to perfection? When you make an error at home or at work, does your anxiety level go up? You are organized, extremely particular and serious with almost everything in your life. It stresses you when others fail to do things properly or when they are not sensitive to your feelings. The difference between Cathy’s style and Patty’s is that Patty’s desire for control has more to do with getting things right than with getting them done.
When something is out of place or the quality is poor, it upsets you. Easygoing friends tell you that relaxing your standards will bring you stress relief. That might work for them, but failing to do things the “right” way will only add to your anxiety. When you are overwhelmed, take time to put things in order. Hang the towels neatly, reorganize your closet, or start your project over.
If you are like Patty, there is only so much noise and group activity you can take before you unravel. Parties and gabbing with girlfriends are healing for stressed out Darlene-types, but you need time alone. Turn off the noise and explain to your more social friends that you require space. Pray, meditate, read or take a day trip alone. Some quiet time will restore your energy.
You tend to be a private person; therefore, suppressing your feelings rather than talking about them is normal for you. But ignoring your negative emotions can put you at risk for stress-related illnesses. You might cure what is bothering you with a good vent. Air your complaints to someone who understands your sensitive side. When nothing is going right, enjoy doing what you do best, and you will feel better in no time.
Ashley, Queen of Avoidance
You are normally even-tempered and only get anxious when there are conflicts. If you are like Ashley, you generally take life in stride. You are most interested in doing what you love than achieving great success. Stress is usually the result of being pressured by Cathy-types who think you are not doing enough.
People sometimes take advantage of you because you are so nice. Should you stand up for yourself? Women with Cathy’s style love the opportunity to assert themselves, but you would rather run from a potential argument. If discord is upsetting you, rely on your natural peacemaking abilities. Find the middle ground. If the issue is minor, give in so you can relax again.
You are likely to feel anxious when confronted with too many alternatives or decisions that affects others. Evaluating the pros and cons may not always help. Sometimes putting off your decisions may be the best choice for you with high hopes that things work themselves out.
The prospect of confronting your problems can be overwhelming. You will need to address issues directly at some point, but in the short term, escaping may be the best medicine. Turn on the television, enjoy a nice meal or take pleasure in the outdoors. Once you feel more relaxed and restored, you will feel better prepared to take action.
Success may not be that important to you, but feeling valuable is. If people are putting you down for not doing more, find a way to build yourself up. Thoughtful gestures and volunteer work can restore your feeling of self-worth so that you can find peace within yourself.
You may see yourself in all four styles, but primarily one or two. You can’t be Darlene and Patty, nor can you be a Cathy and Ashley, as these styles are opposites. If you have one of the following combinations, you can choose stress cures from either style.
Darlene/Cathy: Lack of approval causes stress. Spend time with people who admire and appreciate you.
Cathy/Patty: Others’ failure to do things your way is upsetting. Patiently teach people how to do things properly.
Patty/Ashley: Coping with too many insensitive people can be too much. Spend time alone or with another caring person.
Ashley/Darlene: When life feels too complicated, go out to dinner with a few friends.
Lisa Alexander, Freelance Writer