The Impact of Stress on Women’s Health and What You Can Do About It

Health and wellbeing are influenced by the ability to clear inflammation from the body quickly and regulate the nervous system to offset stress and maintain homeostasis.

While both men and women are affected by inflammation and stress, women have biological cycles each month, similar to the Earth and the seasons. As human animals our biology is attuned to our environment and ability to thrive (reproduce).

Women are nurturers and naturally empathic and receptive; they often comfort and take on the stress of others. Culturally women are expected to suppress their needs and emotions while accommodating others. They are expected to sacrifice and be the caregivers for the family. It is estimated that 65% of caregivers are female.

Biology plays a role

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, we can look at the hormone/reproductive cycle represented according to 4 phases: the Blood phase the Yin phase, Yang phase and Qi Phase.

Each phase coordinates with rising levels of estrogen, follicle stimulating, luteinizing,  progesterone and testosterone. These levels influence energy, metabolism, creativity, emotions, socializing and going more inward.

For example during the premenstrual phase there is a  tendency to seek quiet and contemplation. Instead of scheduling lots of activities plan more quiet activities.

Consuming foods that are nourishing and support the phase of the cycle. Seed cycling is one example. Eating in season to take advantage of the nutrient richness that naturally occurs and focusing on whole and organic.

When we do not “listen to our body” and instead “push” ourselves without building in time for self-care and recovery we can experience the negative effects of stress. This is because we are overriding the nervous system and not allowing the body to rebalance. Imagine trying to come up for air and being pushed down before getting a full breath.

What many women are unaware of is that hormonal birth control is an endocrine disruptor. Birth control suppresses ovulation and their body’s natural cycle. Side effects of hormonal birth can be depression, weight gain and low libido. This can be a hidden stressor on the mind and body that can be difficult to identify as a source of disruption to their health..

Other factors that cause stress on our bodies are environmental such as plastics, soaps, personal care products, foods as well as home furnishings; they contain chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors meaning they affect hormonal balance and can alter reproduction. With more and more couples experiencing struggles with fertility these environmental factors should not be ignored.

One study shows that women with more symptoms of  PTSD have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Chronic low levels of stress constantly disrupt the normal functioning of the body. Symptoms of chronic stress can seem like normal wear and tear, but clues that there is more going on are  poor sleep, food sensitivities and allergies, poor memory, and slow healing. These  indicate the body is out of balance.

Another major clue is chronic neck and shoulder tension that does not improve. This pain and tension pattern is the result of a feedback loop from the nervous system signaling to the muscles to be on alert.

What steps can women take to support their health?

For women’s health and wellbeing a holistic approach is more in alignment than western medical models that address only symptoms. Cultivating mind body practices to strengthen awareness of the rhythms of the body and create a lifestyle that is health oriented. Identifying sources of stress and creating habits that will support a lifestyle in alignment with health.

Very important is to cultivate wellness practices that help to regulate the nervous system such as breathwork and mindfulness meditation.

Acupuncture and massage therapy are also great for relieving inflammation and stress as well as supporting a balanced nervous system.

  1. Focusing on getting quality sleep by taking advantage of the circadian body clock and sleeping before 11:00 pm. This signals to the pineal gland to produce melatonin for deep and restorative sleep.
  2. Natural vit D by going outside during the day, preferably in the morning. Sunlight on the skin produces melanin that later is converted to melatonin. Sunlight also has an effect on the serotonin levels in the brain influencing mood.
  3. Avoid plastic bottles and containers for foods such as takeout containers and water bottles in plastic.
  4. Breathwork is a form of active meditation that helps to regulate the nervous system via diaphragm. This is training the nervous system by controlling the rate of breathing. Deep and intentional breathing also helps with oxygen saturation clearing out inflammation and metabolic waste via the lymphatic system and the main lymphatic cistern in the abdomen.
  5. Eat more whole foods instead of processed even if it says natural or organic. Preparing your own foods is a way to nurture yourself and connect to what you consume. Chose more plant based and in season because it will be nutrient dense and support digestion.

Processed foods have shown to cause low-grade inflammation contributing to chronic illness.

  1. Time management, making sure to schedule  time off and for renewal. Women often taking care of others before themselves. Making your health and wellness a priority by prioritizing the time for it.
  2. Limit social media. Social media is not only a time suck, but it has also been shown to have strong links with increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness and depression.

What we are suggesting is to cultivate a mindset that is based on the principles of balance.

Seek out a practitioner that will support your health goals from a whole health perspective and will look at your health individually and will teach you how to maximize your health.

As women we are great at collaborating and finding a buddy to support each other is a great way to start you journey to better health.

Connect with Tsao on The Wellness Universe.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The Wellness Universe supports Mental Health Awareness Month. Join our event 5 Tools for Better Mental Health 2024 to discover tools that will help you achieve your best mental health. Did you know that 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016 #NAMI

Join us in making a difference—not just in your life but in the broader community. Register today at and take a moment for your mental health. #TakeAMentalHealthMoment #MentalHealthMonth

By prioritizing mental health care without guilt or shame, we can collectively reduce the stigma surrounding mental health challenges.

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