How does stress show up in our lives?
Nicolle Surratte: I realized during COVID that we are modern day superwomen dealing with a modern day Kryptonite called stress. It can lead to chronic health conditions, life, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, and yes, cancer. When you normally hear the word health, people think physical, but health is so much more than that. It’s the mental, the emotional, the spiritual, the financial, the occupational, the relational, all of that. And if one of those areas is outta sync, there’s the potential to have a domino effect and knock them all out. For example you talk about how stress shows up in different ways and it changes personally. A person could leave their job after having had a stressful morning. They walk home, they enter the door and the cookie jar calls their name. So do they eat just one cookie? Absolutely not. They polish off the whole bag and say, oh, when I go to the gym tomorrow, I’ll just stay longer. I’ll work it off. Somebody else, engages in some retail therapy. So now stress is impacting their finances and boy, oh boy, wait until that credit card bill comes the next month. Cuz they spent money they didn’t have, and now we’re on this stress loop. Somebody else, the next person who walks in the door, they just snap because stress is impacting them emotionally. Somebody else is tossing and turning at night because whatever happened at nine o’clock that morning is still on their minds and they can’t get the restful restorative sleep that they need. So stress is impacting us in many ways.
Why are we, why are we so afraid or so hesitant to take care of ourselves? Why do you think black women do that?
Nicolle Surratte: They’re actually doing studies about the superwoman syndrome in women of color. So some of the research is just amazing. Some of it I think is just upbringing. Others have to do with societal factors. If you are a woman and you are a CEO and you’re a woman of color, then the pressures on you are just so extreme. You’re showing up, you’re performing, you might feel like you might feel terrible, but you gotta show up. We wear that mask and, and we know how to play that role. We have to understand what our stress triggers are and how to be proactive instead of reactive about our health. We really need to know what our triggers are and what we can do to avoid going down that path.
Dr. Monique Gary: I think that we’re good at being accountable for other people. That’s what we do. Black women show up for others, show up for our sisters.What that means is that we’ll show up for somebody else faster than we’ll show up for ourselves.
Does good stress exist?
Nicolle Surratte: There’s actually a good stress called E U S T R E S S. And that’s like when you have a presentation and you have butterflies going on. That’s great. Our bodies are actually hardwired to have an automatic response to stress. It’s a survival technique. If there’s an oncoming car, your body needs to have those stress responses kicking the gear so you can get out of harm’s way. So it’s not that temporary stress that’s problematic. It’s that long term, chronic stress that leaves you feeling overworked, overwhelmed, stressed out. That’s what is problematic because your body is operating in emergency mode. A car coming – that stress happens and then it’s over, but chronic stress is just lingering. It may go on for weeks. It may go on for months. And that’s what really impacts your immune system.
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