Are You Under Too Much Stress?
Stress is the body’s way of responding to any change or demand. Our body’s reaction to stress is often referred to as the fight or flight response where our body releases chemicals that can increase our heart rate and blood pressure, cause rapid breathing, or sweating. It can slow our digestion process, dilate our pupils, and even provide us a rush of strength or zap all our energy. Reactions to stress can be physical, mental, and emotional and are completely normal and even useful. However, if you find yourself in frequent or long-lasting stressful conditions, it can lead to chronic disease. That’s why it is so important that we find ways to reduce and cope with stress within our busy schedules.
What are the Types and Examples of Stress?
There are two types of stress, good stress (adrenaline) and bad stress (cortisol). Good stress can push you to elevate your productivity and keep you excited, motivated, and engaged, and usually occurs over the short-term. You also have some control over the outcome. Bad stress can happen over the short-term or long-term, but it sends a message to your body that something is wrong; you are in distress.
Acute Stress vs. Chronic Stress
Acute stress happens over the short-term, with limited exposure.
A great workplace example: Receiving a promotion OR not getting the promotion
Chronic stress happens with long-term exposure to a stressor.
A great workplace example: Manager demands concurrent workplace projects with no clear priority or support.
Everyone experiences acute and chronic workplace stress; however, women consistently experience more gender stereotype stress, and Black women contend with both gender and racial stereotype threats. Besides, society expects Black women to perform as a “strong black woman.” Black women must bounce back with resilience in the face of systemic oppression. We expect them to reflect self-sufficiency and be self-sacrificing as a provider, care-taker, and home-maker. We do not expect this level of stress inducers from any other cultural group.
Strong Black Women
Being a Strong Black Woman is seen as a badge of honor, but Black women suffer from mental and physical consequences of carrying this burden. In a year marked by a pandemic, loss of financial stability, pervasive racial and gender discrimination, and additional family responsibilities, Black women are cracking. Black women are now enduring the pandemic in addition to suffer from burnout, isolation, and discrimination. Women, especially Black women, maybe set back another 100 years as they must re-compete in this new, bias environment, and find COVID safe daycare for their kids. For many they are deciding to side-line their career dreams to handle their families demands.
Policies Don’t Change Beliefs
Many companies are working to create programs and policies to address women’s issues in the workplace; however, they must also determine ways to combat their employees’ and leaders’ beliefs and stereotypes. While at the same time, build the support to encourage women as they develop the resilience to overcome the new challenges and stress from COVID.