CHICAGO (CBS) — Is stress affecting you in a negative way? More and more, women are becoming overwhelmed by the everyday stresses of life.

Unemployment numbers and the current state of the economy aren’t helping. Three different women told their stories to CBS 2’s Kate Sullivan, along with some simple things they do to alleviate stress.

Three different women, one same issue: stress.

“I have five boys, two sets of twins,” said Renee Lottes, who has a full-time job, a busy household to run and, yes, five kids – all boys.

“People who look at me say, ‘Oh, I could never do that,’” Lottes said.

People say the same thing about Relana Johnson, a single woman trying to juggle two jobs – including her own fitness class business.

Then there’s Tiffany De La Rosa, a single mom going to school full-time and waiting tables.

“I just only work the weekends and I’m in school during the week. My son also is involved in activities – karate, piano lessons, Spanish classes.

Their copiously scheduled lives and parental pressures have created serious stress for these three.

“It’s just like, you know, being on your feet for 15 hours, you know, having to just serve and take care of people, and you feel like you need to be taken care of sometimes,” De La Rosa said.

Dr. Joan Anzia, a psychiatrist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said stress is one of the leading causes of serious health problems in women.

“I don’t want to scare people, but long-term severe stress can have a negative impact on our brains and our bodies,” Anzia said.

That includes weight gain, sleep issues, bone loss, and immune deficiencies, which can lead to long-term illnesses and arthritis.

She advised women to take a time out – prioritize and take a deep breath.

“I would make sure that you still take time for yourself,” Lottes said. “For me, I do that on my commute. On my long commute home, I read. I don’t work. I put work away and I read.”

Lottes’ positive attitude might be working for her. According to Anzia, positive people handle stress better.

“I would say, first, to prioritize,” Johnson said. “The other thing is just to find something that makes you happy. Even if it it’s, you know, five minutes and enjoying a chocolate bar. For me, when I’m on a deadline, I like to play Brazilian jazz. It keeps me calm.”

For Johnson, De La Rosa and Lottes, a stress-free life is probably impossible, but a less stressed life is within reach.

“A little bit of stress actually can help us work at a higher level,” Anzia said.

Anzia also mentioned that women should make sure to get enough sleep, focus on good nutrition and have a good network of family and friends for emotional support.

It also helps to take out 20 minutes a day just for you. For more advice on how to manage stress at home and at work, check out the two links below:

    Stress at Work: How to Reduce and Manage Workplace and Job Stress