5 Ways Strong Women Deal With Stress (& How To Use It To Your Advantage)

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It’s no secret that women are busier than ever. We have never had so much on our plates — and it’s enough to exhaust friends, family, and lead to an increase of psychotherapy referrals. Having too much to do and not enough time to do it is often enough for strong women to feel like we’re at our wits’ end and we should just throw in the towel.

Thanks in part to technology and mainstream ideals, as well as social media, we’re expected to “do it all”: look amazing, have wonderful, obedient children; be a “boss babe” and run successful businesses, and have abundant social lives.

While unrealistic, these expectations have actually helped strong women thrive. We've used our stress and daily pressures for motivation — rather than letting them drag us down. And this has helped make us even more productive. 

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Here are 5 ways strong women use stress to motivate and make themselves more productive: 

1. We play games.

I’m not talking about manipulation. We are masters of our universe, of utilizing every single second.

I never knew how much I could accomplish until I started wearing multiple hats as an educator and business owner. I realized I was making it too difficult for myself and ended up trying to make my work fun. How much could I accomplish if I only had two minutes to finish reading? Or if I just sat down and wrote one assignment? Sometimes, just getting started can be the hardest part.

2. Strong women know and respect our limits.

Some days will be more productive than others. It also depends on how one defines “productive.” This is important.

We do not need to compare ourselves more than we already do. What one person can accomplish in an hour may take another person a whole day  and that’s okay! Who, or what, are we trying to measure up to, anyway?

Do you ever wonder why there seem to be a plethora of superhero movies coming out lately in society? Hint: It’s not a real phenomenon to be a superhero. It's a reflection of our desire to work on being our best selves, to do better than we did the day before, and to show up for ourselves every day.

3. We take time off.

We know that sometimes, it’s okay to use a sick or vacation day! Really, the meeting or presentation can wait. The show will go on without you  and you can’t be there to witness every moment of everyone else’s life.

As far as work productivity goes, burning both ends of the lamp only ends up hurting you in the end. Not only are you not able to function productively when you are sleep deprived, hungry, or ill, but you’re actually hurting your ability to do your best work and recover from being sick.

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Listen to your body and your mind! It is counter-cultural to force ourselves to do nothing, but sometimes it is the best thing we could do for ourselves. We take “rest days” off from the gym and the mind is no different.

4. We readjust our expectations and goals.

When saddled with a never-ending to-do list, strong women stop and think: Are we being realistic in terms of what we are trying to accomplish?

Setting goals is important, but setting goals that are realistic is also important. You are much more apt to be productive if you are being successful at the goals you set for yourself along the way (short term) than if you only try to make long-term goals.

You might just give up if you aren’t willing to be that patient (and, most people aren’t). Setting daily goals can be much more efficient than setting yearly goals, simply because they are easier to measure and keep track of.

5. We let go of other people’s voices trying to tell us how to thrive.

How do you talk to yourself? What is the tone like of your inner self? Are you critical, or do you cut yourself some slack? Strong women know that showing ourselves loving compassion is crucial to being able to not only survive, but also thrive. And letting go of others' expectations can help.

If we do not allow ourselves space to think for ourselves and only rely on the opinions of others, then we will not be able to create the space we need to when life becomes hectic.

Ultimately, it is important to realize that life is not going to come at us in the same fashion we would always like it to. The pace of today’s world and current events seems to be moving faster than ever before; but if we are able to celebrate our small successes and have fun along the way despite the pressures we face, then we will be all the more equipped to live life in a manner that agrees with us.

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Dr. Maxine Langdon Starr is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California specializing in adolescents and young adults. If you'd like to reach out to her, you can visit her webpage.