As a black female, stress was not in my dictionary growing up. Even if I felt stressed I could not openly admit it, to myself or to others. But as I grew older, I realised how much stress was a part of our daily lives and is something that we face at different stages of our lives. If we do not deal with it, the consequences can be severe, and that is why I have written this blog to share some tips on overcoming stress. No matter how much we try to avoid stress, stress is all around us, especially if you live in such a busy city such as London.
Stress is not something that we like to face or deal with. In fact, most of the time we like to ignore it but then this just results in it building up. Many of us are told at times to cope or manage stress or we are told to ‘just get on with it’. Quite harsh right? I’m sorry, but I refuse to just cope with stress. I believe that we should face stress and deal with it, rather than brushing it under the carpet. Stress is a major issue that many people face, especially within the black community, yet we are so afraid to speak out. In some cases, it has led people to depression and even suicide. The sad thing is that stress is not something that you can see. It can be felt internally but covered externally with a smile.
Now, I wouldn’t want to come and talk to you about dealing with stress If I’ve never been there myself. For a few months I was feeling stressed and I initially didn’t know why. It was not until I took a second to identify where the stress was coming from that I realised it was from a place of worry and too many commitments. One day when I was at work, I felt heaviness and pain in my chest and this is when I panicked. I felt drained physically, mentally and emotionally. This really woke me up and gave me a reality check.
So, what are some of the ways that we can deal with stress?
- Say no! Sometimes, it’s as simple as just saying NO! Many of us are afraid of saying the word no, and overwork ourselves, causing ourselves to be stressed. I have had to learn over time that it is okay to say no. I used to be that yes girl, where if I was invited to a motive, I was there! But now, I am very selective with my time and have found that this has helped me to reduce stress, especially when my body is telling me to slow down.
- Be honest with yourself! At times it may not be as simple as saying no. Sometimes it is much deeper than getting a good night’s sleep. If we feel stressed, we need to be honest with ourselves. I had to come to the realisation that I was stressed so that I could overcome the stress. Talk to someone if you need to and do not suffer in silence!
- Take a break and remove yourself from things which may be stressing you! Many of us work so hard in our jobs and businesses, but we never take time to relax, refresh, rejuvenate and enjoy our lives. This is one of the biggest causes of stress, alongside finances and relationships. Do not overwork yourself, you are not superman or superwoman. Know when it is time to take a break and slow down.
- Do something you enjoy and focus on positive things. This could be going to the gym, reading, writing, going for a walk or even dancing, but not something that will affect you negatively, such as smoking.
Very often we say that we are too blessed to be stressed. As I have grown older, having experienced stress, this saying has a new meaning to me. I used to think that because I am a Christian, I should not experience stress and would very often say ‘I am too blessed to be stressed’. But Christian or not, as humans stress is all around us. What I learnt, which is part of what I want to share with you today, is that although you may experience stress, you do not have to allow stress to take over your life, your health or your wellbeing.
Your mental health is very important! Ensure that you do not neglect this area of your life. It is hard opening up and talking about these things, but this is the first step to freedom. If you ever find yourself in this position, open up, speak to someone, and receive your freedom.