Ask Us Anything About… Women and Stress – Penn State Health


>>Good afternoon, I am Barbara Shenda [assumed
spelling] with Penn State Health, and we are coming to you live from the campus of Messiah
College at the Women in Business forum for Ask Us Anything About Women and Stress. I am joined today by Lenah Ambersand who is
the program manager for behavioral health in the department of psychiatry at Penn State
Health. We welcome your questions and comments for
Lenah. Just post them in the comment field of this
post. Lenah, thanks so much for joining us today.>>You’re welcome.>>So, let’s start with the basics. Tell us what is stress and is it always bad?>>Stress is our body’s natural reaction to
things that cause us discomfort or distress. And it can be an adjustment to just change. Things that we’re going through. So, it’s not always bad. When you think of childbirth, that’s distress
and discomfort. So that can definitely cause us stress. Marriage. Job promotion. If you’re really hoping for a different thing. So, there’s a lot of different reasons that
will cause the anxiety to come in us, but it’s not always bad.>>Okay, so it’s not always something to worry
about. So, tell us, what are some of the symptoms
of stress? Both mental, emotion, physical. So, what — how can — how do I know I’m stressed
out?>>Well, one of the things is a lot of people
feel like their heart beating really fast or they could start sweating. Muscle tension is another thing that could
cause, you know, just things to look out for. Frequent urination. You know, running to the bathroom every time
you’re feeling stressed. Also, our eating habits and our patterns. And so, there’s a lot of different reasons
that we just really — the most important thing I can say is to pay attention to your
body.>>And when — when you are feeling these
symptoms of stress, when does it become a problem?>>It becomes a problem when it’s going on
for a prolonged period of time. A lot of times we might have heard the fight
or flight symptoms, that response that the body has. And our body is meant to have that frequent
prolonged fight or flight response, and being in that high stress situation. Usually that’s when we’re facing a life endangering
situation, when we — it helps us to react. But sometimes we can react over, oh my goodness
I missed the bus, and it puts us in that stage and it’s definitely not healthy to stay in
that stage for a long time.>>Okay. So, what are some of the ill effect’s health
wise of stress? Does it cause any type of, you know, cardiac
problems or inflammation, digestive issues? Does stress — I know a lot of people say,
you know, oh I’m so stressed out, my stomach is hurting. Is that — is that normal?>>Well, a lot of times stress enhances some
of the things that are already there. So, for those of us for example who may have
arthritis, stress decreases our pain tolerance. So therefore, it would make you feel some
of the pain more. Some of our GI issues that we have. We have acids in our body so our stress level
can increase those and cause — whether it’s bloatiest or different things like that. So, there’s an underlying effect that are
there that stress can just enhance.>>Okay. So again, we are coming to you live from the
campus of Messiah College at the Women in Business forum for Ask Us Anything About Women
and Stress. We welcome your questions for Lanae Ampersand. You can post them in the comment field on
this post and we will get an answer for you. And we also — we have a live question here. So, Elizabeth [assumed spelling] is going
to join us. She has a question about stress. Hi, how are you?>>Great. How are you?>>Good.>>So, I was just wondering. I’ve been really stressed, kind of personal
obligations and work life, and that tends to spiral. Do you have any tips on how I can kind of
mitigate that stress when it starts so it doesn’t add and build and build?>>Well, and the thing is, for us as women
we are juggling so many different things. And so, we do have a lot of things that — plates
that we’re doing. So, make sure — I would say some mindfulness
things that just make sure when you’re driving down the street and you’re at a red light,
pay attention to how tightly you may be gripping on the steering wheel or pay attention to
your breathing. That will give you an indication that, okay
there might be something I need to do to relax and breathe in and breathe out. Different things like that. But I think that if you — if you know the
symptoms of your body and know things that are different, and you can have little breaks
that you can take, whether — it’s a beautiful day today. I don’t know wherever you work, if you’re
just able to go out for a couple of minutes. But just include some daily activities that
you can do and daily tricks to make sure you’re giving yourself a break so it doesn’t get
overwhelming.>>Great, thank you.>>Thanks, so much Elizabeth. WE appreciate it. So again, we are watching Ask Us Anything
About Women and Stress. We welcome your questions for Lanae Ampersand. And if you find this information useful, please
feel free to share it on your timeline. So, let me ask you — what — is stress different
for men and women? Does — what makes stress different for women?>>Well the stress hormone, cortisol, that
— in women it can increase our ability to — well not ability, but it can increase our
desire to — overeating, some of the times undereating. Just our different as women — different hormonal
things. Whether it’s with menopause or just with our
menstrual cycles and different things like that. And so, because it increases the hormone level
it can affect the way men and women feel. The outcome of that. We retain a lot of — it signals and triggers
weight gain. Well, to store fat. Not weight gain. So, then that can also effect body image and
different things like that.>>Okay, so other than hormones having the
effect as you mentioned, you know, if a women’s going through menopause, if she is going through
her menstrual cycle, that can add a little bit more. What about life cycles? You know, if you are going through a big life
change. Say that you are about to become an empty
nester. Is that going to — is that going to cause
some difference in your stress level?>>It could. Becoming an empty nester is one of those things
that could cause distress. And it’s change and it’s causing you to adjust
to your new lifestyle. So, there could be an anxiety of what do I
do now without a schedule? Or you know, a lot of times just worrying
about what the next stage will hold. So, for different — it’s different for different
life — you know, life stages. You know.>>Okay, and you had mentioned in response
to Elizabeth’s question, some tips about how to keep your stress under control. You know, so are these the kinds of things
you recommend doing on the — on a daily basis? You know, if I’m sitting at my office desk
and I’m very, very busy and feeling a little stressed out, what — what else might you
recommend to deal with that?>>Right. Well I do recommend taking a break. There’s a lot of things on YouTube and online. You can search — there’s stretching. So, you could do yoga at your desk. And there’s some YouTube videos for that. Also making sure you’re being mindful of what’s
going on in your body. So even eating a piece of candy. If you eat some of the candy and focus on
the flavor, focus on the texture of the candy as you’re maybe looking out the window or
something like that. If you distract at least two or three of your
senses, that will help distract you from whatever stressful situation is, and the goal is to
bring your blood pressure, your heart rate, your breathing down. Just anything to calm you down.>>Okay, so when you’re eating that candy,
instead of just unwrapping it and you know, quickly eating it. You want to take a minute, enjoy the taste,
enjoy the texture.>>Yes.>>Very helpful.>>Mindful things that you can do.>>So, what about alcohol. A lot of people say, oh I’ve had a busy day,
I’ve been stressed out, oh I’m ready for a glass of wine. Is that helpful or could it be hurtful for
dealing with stress?>>It’s funny you should say that, because
alcohol seems like it’s the number one cure all for stress. Everybody’s like, oh I need a drink. Or hey, let’s go out to drink. And just focusing on what you’re getting from
that. A lot of times it’s the social aspect. Just hanging together, talking, getting together
with friends, venting. That’s all the helpful part of the, hey let’s
go get a drink. Now if you’re using alcohol to self-medicate
or, you know, if you’re finding that you’re going to it as your number one go to, then
that’s where it can become harmful. Especially if the alcohol starts disrupting
your activities of your daily every day.>>Okay. You are watching Ask Us Anything About Women
and Stress. Again, we are live on the campus of Messiah
College. We welcome your questions for Lanae Ampersand
who is the program manager for behavioral health at Penn State Health. So, let me ask you. We are all — you had mentioned, you know,
women are spinning a lot of plates. We have a lot of things going on. And a lot of people feel a lot of pressure
to perform so well at their job, that sometimes people feel guilty about taking days off.>>Yes.>>So, what are the benefits of taking that
time off, taking a vacation?>>I am a huge advocate of vacation days. They’re personal time off. Whether — I call them mental health days
or rediscover me days. It’s so huge and important. Especially if you can even just take a day
off and not have a schedule. You know, unless your schedule is the itinerary
of a spa, you know, it’s really helpful just to — just to stay in your pj’s and just,
you know, and just be. And so, every time people think vacation means
you have to spend money or you have to different things. And you don’t. It’s just that unplugging. Thinking about your likes and dislikes and
so I’m a huge proponent of self-care.>>So, a staycation is just as useful as a
vacation.>>Yes.>>So, what about if I am — we work with
a lot of coworkers and a lot of teamwork happening. What can I do — is there anything I can do
if I notice a coworker is very stressed out? What kind of help can we offer our friends,
coworkers, family if we see they look overwhelmed?>>Yeah, one of the things is just buddy up
and say, hey do you want to go for a walk? Or hey, come with me while I go down the hall. You know, I don’t — everybody’s work setting
is different. But make sure we’re taking true lunch breaks. If you notice that your coworker is eating
through a project or something. Just like, hey, step away and take a moment. But if we can — you know, just help each
other out. Even if — notes of encouragement. So, a lot of times if you can like slip a
note or say something funny or just make them laugh. Just anything to give them that break in their
— in their thinking that will help.>>Very good. So, if you are feeling really overwhelmed,
really stressed out, and you think that you might need to be to the point where you might
need professional help. What do you recommend? Should somebody call their PCP or should they
call a mental health counselor? What’s the best way to help with stress?>>The best way is — you know, one of the
things is we don’t know the intensity. Whereas one person can think it’s not as dangerous
for them, it can be affecting their lives in dangerous ways. So definitely — there is nothing wrong with
calling a counselor. A lot of times there’s just a little unsettledness,
uneasiness, and just a stigma against seeking out counseling. Professional help. It — there is nothing wrong with that. I know that for any college students, a lot
of the campuses have student health services. I know at the Community of Medicine, at our
college at Penn State Health, we have our student mental health services and counseling. So definitely utilize those supports. A lot of professional businesses have an employee
assistance program. So that’s one of the things that you can find
out. If your business has that. And a lot of times they offer two to three
free sessions.>>Okay. Thank you. And we do have a question here from Jule [assumed
spelling]. Jule is wondering what is the difference between
anxiety and stress?>>So, one of the things is stress is — as
I said in the beginning, that normal reaction to change and different situations in our
life. The anxiety comes when it’s increasing. So, when the stress levels are increasing,
that it’s causing extra physical things, emotional things going on that could interfere with
your daily life.>>Thank you. And thank you Jule [assumed spelling]. And we have another question from the crowd. Come on in. You can join us. And what is your name? Tracy [assumed spelling]? Hi Tracy [assumed spelling].>>Tracy [assumed spelling]. Hi there. My question is, how does one turn their mind
off during meditation? It’s supposed to be great to relieve stress,
but I can never turn my mind off.>>That is a great question. I second that.>>That is a great question. And a lot of times that why I say explore
— meditation might be something that doesn’t work for you. And so just explore several different things
that can help you. What I would say with meditation, that a lot
of times it’s forcing you to just sit quiet and be. So maybe you need some other visuals. And so, I have a stress ball here. And so, a lot of times people just think if
I squeeze it quickly it will help. But just really focusing on the squeezes and
the textures and just focusing on things to be able to calm you down. So, I think with the meditation you might
need to engage some of your other senses. Whereas if you’re listening or you might have
to engage sight or sound or smell, just to help bring you — bring you back. So, if you notice you’re drifting off, then
engage the other senses to — like maybe pop something in, a little candy in your mouth
or something flavorful so that you can — it gives you more things to focus on so your
mind’s not wandering off. And you can have your stress ball.>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome.>>Thank you very much Tracy [assumed spelling]. So, I notice too you’re also holding something
else in your hand. This is a little stress tip. A deal with stress tip.>>It is a stress tip. So, one of the things too is I also have — I
created this for myself. It’s a mousepad of when I went — I had a
girl’s vacation away and that was part of my other self-care. But just — this is my — also my mindfulness
technique that you can use. That you can just — just stare at and, you
know, for me because this is someplace, I’ve been. I can remember then what it felt like. How hot it was. I can envision the sound of the ocean. And then it’s engaging my visuals. So, it’s — you can do that in your office. You can frame some videos — or frame some
pictures and have them around your office. That — you know, I’m not telling you to not
do any office work, but if you need that couple of minutes, just something that you can stare
off to and focus to get your mind off of whatever project that you’re working on that’s causing
anxiety or stress.>>Thank you. And we do have another question from the crowd. Please come in. Kim [assumed spelling]. Hi, thanks so much for joining us.>>Hi, you’re welcome. Interesting question. At my age an awful lot of us think that if
we have a glass of wine or maybe a big old bowl of ice cream [laughter], that that’s
a great way to relieve stress. Is it really effective or are we just talking
ourselves into what we want?>>Right. And that is a great question. And you have to be careful, because a lot
of times the — society says, oh ice cream and eating and let’s go for a drink, that’s
something that can help relieve stress. But you also have to be careful of the cortisol
that — that increases our desire for sweets and for carbohydrates and different things. And we could overeat. And so, it’s good to just spread out your
techniques in — and ways to relax. I would say with that glass of wine, spend
time more socializing. So, it’s not like two, or three, or four,
the whole bottle. You know, just get — just get the benefits
of what the socialization does and the conversation, as opposed to the alcohol or the eating. Because it could increase — if that’s your
go to all the time, if you have diabetes then that could increase there with the ice cream. Or if, you know, alcoholism down the road
if you continue to increase your intake. So, you just have to be careful.>>Thank you very much. I have one more question. So, you had mentioned before, if you’re seeking
professional help, counseling, and that sometimes people are hesitant to do something like that
because they feel like there’s a stigma. So, could you kind of explain, you know, how
to get started? What is counseling? How does it work?>>Okay. Counseling is you would call — you know,
you could call us or one of your local agencies. But basically, it’s setting you up with somebody
who is there to help you just to — it’s like a puzzle piece. Just to lay everything out so you can understand
what’s going on, understand why you’re stressed, and help put some of the pieces together on
how you can deal with it in a healthy way. And so, it’s not intimidating. It’s really meant to meet you where you’re
at and just to have that sounding board a lot of the times. Just to understand what’s going on and a sounding
board to figure out, okay what can I do next? It doesn’t have — it doesn’t mean you have
to be in counseling forever. A lot of times, people think oh, all I’m going
to get is medication. It doesn’t mean that. It’s just really figuring out what’s going
on and what’s the best way we can help.>>Okay. And you are watching Ask Us Anything About
Women and Stress. Even if you are watching this on playback,
we welcome your questions or comments for Lenah. We will make sure that we get an answer for
you. And thanks again for joining us. And thank you for joining us.>>Oh, thank you.>>This has been Ask Us Anything About Women
and Stress with Penn State Health.

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