10 Tips Black Women Need To Manage Stress
In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after working relentlessly for years on end. As a black woman trying to make a way for myself in Corporate America, my physical and mental health had both taken a backseat to the many tasks I had to take on each day. My diagnosis woke me up, though, and I realized just how much the stress had negatively affected me—inside and out. And now, with the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing mandates occurring, causing many of us to make major changes to our daily routines, it’s even more important that I advocate to working women and highlight the many ways we can manage our stress more effectively to maintain a healthy work-life balance while we shelter in.
While all women face stressors in their everyday lives, Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) said “the inequities in the impact of stress on the health and well-being of black women cannot be ignored. The lived experiences of black women speak to the overwhelming stress in their lives.” According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), black women’s life expectancy is three years shorter on average than white women, and some of the root causes may be related to stress. In addition, Blount also pointed to high stress levels as a possible reason for higher maternal mortality rates in black women.
Whether you are stressed from work, your home life, or your personal relationships, here are 10 ways you can manage it and put yourself and your well-being first.
1. Slow down to speed up.
In my book, This Is Only a Test, I talked about the importance of slowing down to speed up. What this means is taking life a day at a time and not worrying too much about your endless to-do list or the future. Take a few minutes out of each day to center yourself, take some deep breaths, and focus on what’s truly important. Slowing down and making sense of your jumbled thoughts will definitely help decrease your overall stress levels.
2. Tap into your spirituality.
Whether it’s through prayer, meditation, or some other form of relaxation, taking a breather and tapping into your spiritual energy can work wonders for releasing stress and getting back to your true, peaceful self.
3. Take a social media break.
While social media has allowed us to connect with people from so many different walks of life, it can also breed a lot of negativity and self-doubt, causing unneeded stress on top of the stress you already experience in your everyday life. Delete those distracting, troublesome apps for a couple days out of the week and see just how much your stress levels decrease.
4. Get your body moving.
It’s been proven time and time again that exercise is a great way to relieve stress and blow off some steam. Join a spin class, take a bike ride, or do some yoga; anything that gets your body moving will certain get you in a better headspace.
5. Listen to your favorite songs.
There’s nothing quite like sitting back and jamming out to your favorite songs. Whether your go-to playlist is R&B, hip-hop, or rock, music has the powerful ability to rejuvenate you and get you back into a positive state of mind.
6. Rest, rest, rest!
If your mind and body have been begging you to take a break and rest, listen! There’s nothing wrong with taking a break, especially if it seems like you’re always on the go. Be mindful of how your mind and body are reacting to your current routine and take some time to rest if you feel it’s needed.
7. Be mindful of your diet.
Incredibly, the food we eat has a remarkable effect on how we navigate through life and how our minds and bodies react to our circumstances. If your diet is heavy in fast food and unhealthy snacks, it may be time for you to reevaluate what you’re fueling your body with. Focus on eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and watch your mental and physical health transform for the better.
8. Set some boundaries.
With so many people depending on you every day, it may be hard to carve out some time for yourself, but sometimes saying no is absolutely necessary. If you know you often get distracted at work, put your phone on do not disturb and let the people in your life know when you’ll be available to talk. If you’re aware that your coworkers or employees like to blow your phone up after working hours, it’s important to have conversations with them to set some boundaries so you can stay sane.
9. Ask for help.
Women have a tendency of taking on the Superwoman role unnecessarily. While there may be a plethora of people or tasks that need your attention, it’s important for you to understand that you don’t have to do it all alone. If you’re struggling to keep up with your work or your day-to-day tasks, ask someone you trust for help. This will help lower your stress levels while making sure everything gets done the right way.
10. Develop a support system.
Piggy-backing off that last point, support systems are super important, especially if you’re a working mom who can’t be in two places at once. Lean on a trusted friend, family member, or group to help you navigate those busy seasons of life. You’ll be happy to know there are people in your corner rooting for your success.
Stress is a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean it should take over every aspect of your life. Take some time to sit down and prioritize the different aspects of your life, making note of what needs your attention the most and what can either be delegated to someone else or wait for a better time. Your mental and physical health are so important, and I want to make sure you get a handle on your stress levels before they negatively affect you and your health.
What are your favorite ways to destress?