Stress in Men: Taking another look at some coping mechanisms
There is no debate about whether men versus women deal with their stress in different ways. Each gender has some peculiar ways of coping although it cannot be altogether be discredited that many coping mechanisms are shared by both sexes.
To illustrate “peculiar ways”, take this BBC news report stating that stressed men prefer heavier women:
“When placed under stressful situations, men rate larger women as more attractive, new research has shown.”
Is it a coping mechanism or the effect of stress? When we talk of coping mechanisms, we deal with some scheme that a person adopts in order to survive his current issues.
The question here is whether men prefer women because the choice comes with a particular relief or solution to their stress or do they take this preference because their taste changed after undergoing stressful condition? In short – is it the perceived way of exiting the situation or an effect?
The researchers who conducted this particular research conclude that after undergoing stress-provoking situations, judgment and preferences are altered. So, it means it is the effect of the stress.
In the same BBC article, readers will not fail to notice the question written at the upper right corner which is indeed intriguing – whether men are looking for a motherly figure in times when they are stressed.
Thinking over these results in another perspective, is it logical to infer that men are looking for a stronger figure to be at their side during stressful times? Heavier women are perceived stronger than really thin women. Maybe another reason for this is related to the perception that chubbier people are jolly. During times that someone is pressed by stressful conditions, he looks for a break.
Whatever the reason behind this result, the important thing is that it is somehow not an unhealthy concern unlike other coping mechanisms prevalent to men that either presents health risk or life threat.
Experts agree that one coping way adapted more by men than women is indulging in high-risk activities – whether it be sports or a daily activity like driving. Some guys tend to drive recklessly when stressed.
Others may take refuge in excessive smoking or drinking to attain temporary relief from stress. Then, it will turn into a habitual addiction that brings about more complication to the main concern – stress.
Another area that is interesting when it comes to coping mechanisms of men is the fact that they tend to snap easier than women. This is accounted for by the differences in psychological as well as biological make-up between men and women.
Psychologically, women can burst into socially accepted reaction of crying to pour out their emotions while men try to suppress the accumulating pent up energies within them as they undergo stressful conditions.
On the biological side, experts believe that hormonal factor constitutes the biological basis of the differences between men and women in coping with stress.
When our body reacts to a stressful condition, the release of a particular hormone called oxytocin is triggered. This is believed to be responsible in inducing relaxing feeling[ii].
Understanding these trivial facts are helpful in coming up with a more efficient way of coping with stress.