For much of the country, it’s been a weekend full of civic engagement, either directly or indirectly. You may have watched or been a part of Trump’s inauguration, or the multiple women’s marches that occurred across the world. Either way, now it’s Monday, known the world over as one of the most stressful times of the week! And stress is no stranger to any of us. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.” Even when we experience a positive outcome, such as being promoted at work, we experience what Hans Selye referred to as “eustress,” or good stress.
Stress is disruptive to our regular state of equilibrium. On our better days, stress is manageable—the dress we purchase doesn’t come in our favorite color, or our children are fussing with each other about whose turn it is to ride shotgun. On more difficult days, however, we wonder whether our resources—physical, psychological, financial, or otherwise—are sufficient for coping with the demands that we face. We’ve heard the song, “There’s A Bright Side Somewhere,” but we secretly wonder if this is true. For countless generations of black women before us, stress was just a way of life, something to press through because our survival depended on it. The challenges of chattel slavery and its harsh realities—having little to no control over our bodies, our families, what work we would do, or the circumstances of our lives—were devastating to the psyche. Transitioning out of slavery into the reign of Jim Crow laws did not vastly improve our living conditions as we remained at the bottom of the social framework of society. With the victories of the Civil Rights Movement and the advancement of women’s rights, we witnessed more glimmers of hope and some measurable progress in the quality of life of black women, overall. Over the years, our ancestors have passed along our Christian faith, wisdom, encouragement, and practical strategies for how to survive under oppressive circumstances. In everything from raising children without paternal support to maintaining our coiffures with style and dignity, these maternal figures have helped us to “keep on keeping on.” Some might suggest that black women now have unprecedented opportunities to focus not merely on surviving, but thriving!
Striving to thrive, with all of its glorious potential, however, also has its challenges. Many of these challenges, such as pursuing advanced education, building a family of integrity, climbing the corporate ladder, establishing a non-profit organization, or starting your own business, can yield amazing outcomes, but also result in higher and higher levels of stress. Over time, stress is unpleasant or painful to experience, and it can also have a devastating impact on our life expectancy and other indicators of health and quality of life.
So it’s important to consider effective ways to deal with stress. What are ways of handling stress that work for you? Also, what are approaches that have not worked so well for you? Share your wisdom, and we’ll talk more about your ideas on the next blog. Until then,
À votre santé (“To your health”)!