I realised something this week (apart from the fact that if I had been born in the 50s I would have been the biggest Frankie Valli fan ever). I realised that holidays are great. Holidays are great if you're the one taking them, but holidays really aren't so great when everyone else is taking them... and you're the one left doing the work.
For this reason, the last couple of weeks have been particularly stressful. Less support above and below makes keeping on top of projects really quite tough! Being the steely woman that I am (ahem), I have attempted to power through with a (quivering) stiff upper lip, but there have been some pretty angry and emotional moments.
Luckily for me, the Women 1stZSL London Zoo event and Jacqui Marson came to my rescue with some great tips on how to train your inner chimp (a metaphor for that little voice in your head that tells you you can't do things and makes you panic). We share these great tips in this issue where we focus on what stress really is, how men and women's reactions to stress differ and what you can do to diffuse it.
We also check out some of the twitter bullying affecting male personalities in our Man's Corner and Mr Smith updates us on his (ongoing) holiday. Our last issue was our most read issue yet (over 1,700 reads) - thanks so much for all the #suitie support!
Issue #18 of Suit & Pie is out on 11 September 2014. Subscribe here to receive it straight to your inbox and catch up on past issues in our archive. You can also read the Suit & Pie story here courtesy of womanthology.co.uk.
The Stress Factor
So we all experience a little (or a lot) of stress from time to time, but what is stress really? Do men and women react differently to it? And how do we deal with it? Answers, please!
What is it?
Hans Selye first coined the word "stress" (as it is currently used) in 1936 as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". Mr Selye had been subjecting lab animals to different acute noxious physical and emotional stimuli which had resulted in these animals developing various diseases similar to those seen in humans subject to persistent stress (eg. heart attacks, stroke).
As a result of its unpleasant consequences, stress soon came to be defined negatively as "a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise."
However the positive effects of stress should not be ignored. Increased stress can lead to increased productivity - up to a point, after which things start going south. The tipping point (or 'the hump', probably not to be confused with the Black Eyed Peas hit'My Humps') is different for each person and will depend on various factors such as background, culture, skills, experience, personality, health, ethnicity, gender and age.
This explains why the same situation (eg. a rollercoaster ride) can be perceived as more or less stressful depending on the individual, their experiences and their perceptions (which can sometimes be faulty - resulting in more stress).
Reactions in men vs women
In 2000, research conducted by UCLA identified that men were more likely to respond to stress using a Fight or Flight approach whereas women were more likely to Tend and Befriend. In 2012, Australian scientists found that this response may be due to the fact that men possess the SRY gene, a male development gene that may promote aggressive behaviour. So what does this look like in real life?
PS: The great little angry man illustration is courtesy of Jon Warren, a very talented artist we hope to feature more going forward! Check out his website for more great art.
Dude in distress
- Physiological: More norepinephrine, responsible for vigilance (usually when hunting!) and cortisol, the 'stress hormone', giving a short burst of energy, reduced sensitivity to pain but also lower immunity and impaired cognitive performance in the long run.
- SRY Gene: Causes blood pressure to increase under stress, quicker pulse and adrenaline which may result in aggressive behaviour
- Fight or flight: Will either run or face down the enemy (if there is one) depending on perceived likelihood of success.
- Greatest cause of stress: Performance failure, i.e. trying to achieve a winning performance at all costs
- More likely to play sports or listen to music to manage stress. Will seek an escape activity to create a relaxing diversion. Will not usually take time out to discuss stress with others.
Damsel in distress
- Physiological: Release of endorphins to alleviate pain and feel good about social interactions, more oxytocin linked to the desire to behave in a friendly manner towards children or close social partners.
- No SRY Gene: Instead influenced by oestrogen and internal opiates, the hormones used to control pain.
- Tend and befriend: Will either befriend the enemy (if there is one) or seek social support from family members or friends.
- Greatest cause of stress: Relationship loss, i.e. trying to maintain good relationships at the expense of your own needs
- More likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress (eg. having a headache, having felt as though they could cry, having an upset stomach).
As the guest speaker at the recent Women 1st event in London Zoo, chartered counselling psychologist and author of the book The Curse of Lovely, Jacqui Marson set out three steps to take when your inner chimp (that little voice in your head that identifies real or perceived danger and sends out stress signals) starts chattering:
1. Let it shriek: So your boss has just pushed forward the deadline on your report by 3 hours, you have 2 urgent emails to write, a 4 hour meeting to go to on the other side of town and... you really need to pee. Panic stations! Your heart starts beating really fast, your palms are sweaty, your mind goes blank, you feel really angry. Your inner chimp is jumping up and down shouting "you're fired!" in a scene reminiscent of The Apprentice.
You know what? Let your inner chimp shout it out. Take a few minutes to let it shriek and tell you about the worst possible outcome. Listen to it and then...
2. Calm it: Now your inner chimp has had a good shriek, calm it down. Take a few deep breaths. Remove yourself from the situation for a moment, imagine you are somewhere else - in a peaceful place (yes, Richard Branson's private island will do).
3. Give it a banana: Take action! Yep, we're getting physical. Go outside to get some fresh air, walk to the shops to get a snack or beverage, have a chat with a friend. If you have time, go for a run. Taking action could also mean just getting going, book that kick off all parties call.
And before you know it that angry chimp will have disappeared. Stress? What stress?
Socks & crumbs(or the bit at the bottom)
Heard it through the (corporate) grapevine...
- The annual Women 1stShine Awards will take place on 16 September at the London Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. The event will be hosted by Matt Dawson MBE. Check out the nominees here and book your table!
- laughing at the 50 funniest tweets this week (in line with our Man's Corner theme) - my fave: changing lightbulbs
- chowing down a whole Devon Crab and other amazing seafood-y items at J Sheekey
It's a man's world - maybe we aren't so different after all
Male twitter targets
A 2 week study conducted by thinktank Demos of 2,006,616 tweets that were sent to celebrities, politicians and journalists revealed that 1 in every 20 tweets sent to male celebrities was abusive compared to 1 in 70 for females.
Piers Morgan was the worst hit with 8.7% of his received tweets being offensive, compared to 2.6% of tweets to Ricky Gervais. Although the abusive tweets sent to One Direction's Niall Horan were so numerous they had to be excluded from the study.
The only woman who received more abuse than the average for her male counterparts was ITV's Susanna Reid (5.22%), many of these commenting on her appearance.
Although women in the study did not appear to receive more online abuse, the abuse they received did focus more on them being women than on anything they have said or done.
Last year, MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy successfully campaigned for Twitter to introduce an 'abuse button' after she was trolled for supporting a campaign to feature Jane Austen on the new £10 note.
Mr Smith's corner
Mr Smith gives us his thoughts for the week.
Highlights: Just back after family hols! Dudes back to school next week so returning to a routine for a bit. Looking forward to phoning IT to reset my PC passwords as 2 weeks of ping pong, stick cricket and ice cream have taken their toll... I just hope I can remember how to do my tie.
Lowlights: Queuing for an orange aircraft that is 90 minutes late with four kids and no charge on iPads. That was some game of 'eye spy'. That is stress Miss Foong if you were looking for a case study!
Lesson learnt: Wifi signal round the pool was not as useful as I thought judging by the number of cardboard boxes waiting for us when we got home. Apparently Mrs S has Wifi on the Kindle too and managed to squeeze in a bit of retail therapy whilst we were playing in the pool. It appears we played in the pool a lot. I don't think these are new pencil cases and school uniforms either. That will teach me for checking my emails!
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