Handling Stress

By Stephanie Barbee | May 2, 2022

When you think of stress, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it good stress like preparing for a presentation or is it bad stress like not being able to pay a bill this month? Stress can be both things. Stress is defined by stress.org as “a neutral word that refers to our reaction to change”. It goes on to say that this can be ANY type of change. The change can be good or bad and the change could be something we want or something we don’t want. So, imagine some (most?) of us desire to be with partners in a committed relationship. When we go from casually dating and the honeymoon phase is over and the rose-colored glasses are looking a lot like sunglasses at night, that stress could be all these things at the same time. It can be good that the relationship is moving and bad that it’s not moving with as much harmony as you’d wanted. It can be a desire to be in a relationship and undesired to be in an unhealthy relationship.

Man! Stress is a little more complicated than it seems huh? It affects our thoughts, emotions, and how we are with the people around us. The interesting part is most of us spend so much time trying to avoid and get rid of stress, that we don’t often take time to be with it. I know it sounds so backward, but it’s true. Being with the stress and practicing accepting that the moment is stressful can help to open your mind to new solutions. That’s because when we’re stressed, we start to focus on the most important thing, survival. When we’re focused on survival, we’re not focused on complex thoughts and creativity, like figuring out how to communicate my needs to my partner without creating more stress in the relationship. So, the next time you’re stressed, try this. Set a timer for 2 minutes. For 2 minutes, notice your body like you’re a scientist making a new discovery. Notice where you feel the energy, where you don’t feel the energy, what thoughts you’re thinking, and what feelings you feel. Don’t try to write them down or even remember them necessarily. Just be with them for TWO WHOLE MINUTES. Then go back to your situation.

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much of anything can be bad, including water. Too much stress can have an impact on the heart, blood pressure, and other body systems, as well as mood. Be aware and do yourself a favor, make space for it!

About The Author

Stephanie Barbee is a Clinical social worker in Missouri. She serves Black people across the sexual identity and gender identity spectrum seeking to approach therapy from a holistic (mind-body-spirit) perspective or explore spirituality more deeply. She can be found on the clinicians of color directory here:  https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinicians/spectrum-of-healing-llc/


Stephanie Barbee

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