“…it’s real when the beef don’t die down…”: A Look At Stress

Who knows more about stress than black women?! The reality is working 2x as hard can be stressful.  Unfortunately that stress is evident in many physical ailments, from acne to hypertension.  Stress can also lead to depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem. So what exactly is stress?!

At About.com, stress is “defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain.” Sounds like life to me, lol! The stress that most people refer to as being “stressed out” is “acute stress”. Acute stress is short-term stress ”experienced in response to an immediate perceived threat, either physical, emotional or psychological. The threat can be real or imagined; it’s the perception of threat that triggers the response.” Again, pretty much when you know or even just imagine that someone is coming at you, stress would be the feeling you get from resisting beating that person’s ass, lol.  More serious than acute stress is chronic stress. I think  of chronic stress as “being in the thick of it”; when  life has thrown you nothing but shitty days and the feeling like you’re being suffocated by everyone and everything during that extended time.  So how does being in the thick of it and wanting everyone to fuck off cause acne and hypertension?!

After being threatened, we automatically go into what is known as “fight or flight” mode.  Hence the name, pretty much this is the moment when you decide to put up or shut up.  And when have you ever known a black woman to shut up?! :-) In taking on every battle, we become prime candidates for chronic stress.  When the body is in “fight or flight” mode, it adjusts certain functions to give the body “a burst of energy” to accomodate the added stress. These adjustments include:

  • release of hormones like adrenalin and cortisol
  • heart rate speeding up
  • slowing digestion
  • constricting blood flow to major muscle groups

As we know from our hypertension and diabetes research, these symptoms are no good. Adrenalin and cortisol increase the heart rate to pump blood faster to the needed limbs at the time you’re probably itching to punch someone, lol.  The increased heart rate increases the blood pressure to the artery walls causing hypertension.  The stimulation of the adrenal glands also result in the overproduction of sebum.  Remember, sebum is the oil produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin.  The excess oil usually leads to acne breakouts during stressful times.  And depending on your diet, slowing digestion can cause diabetes due to the excess sugar in the bloodstream. You will need the extra energy, but the reality is arguing with the bitch, young lady that had the nerve to call your phone is not going to burn off the bag of M&M’s you snacked on after lunch.  All in all it’s safe to say prolonged or chronic stress is all around bad.

Moral of the Story: We need to stop sweating the small stuff! If it’s not worth getting a pimple or diabetes for, then unfortunately its gotta go! It’s that simple.  As young women coming into our own it can be stressful, but in “doing too much” we only hurt ourselves.  Not to mention the imagined threats that Little Miss Estrogen bring at least once a month :-) Life is about balance, and so with the good times come the bad times.  Being a Dynamo is to always be doing great things for others but just as important are activities that help you to relax to balance out the stressful times.  So take a chill pill or “cool out” as they say! You’ll be much happier and healthier for it. xx

Happy ‘Relaxing’ and ‘Not Sweating the Small Stuff’ Ladies!! :-) xx

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  2. PSA: A plea from a frustrated, not angry black woman to all Dynamos!!
  3. “Living the Raw Deal, three course meals: spaghetti, fettucini, and veal…”: A Look At Food Taste Preferences
  4. “…I am NOT my hair…”: A Look at the Biology of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Hair
  5. “…my Aunt Pam can’t put them cigarettes down, so now my little cousin smoking them cigarettes now…”: A Look at Hypertension
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