As the days countdown to my time at GirlTrek's first ever #StressProtest, it is a crazy time for me in my life. Between travel for work, Hurricane Harvey hitting my home and affecting my city, and just dealing with the inner workings of building a career-oriented life and adulting while also trying to find time for self-care, can we say ya girl is stressed out?!
When I am stressed, I hold all of my feelings in my neck and my hips, submitting those areas to tightness, soreness, and just generally uncomfortable movement. I know it's really bad when my neck starts to throb from bad posture, and then that's where you'll find me at a yoga class or enjoying a much-needed massage. We, as women, carry the weight of the world, and often time don't notice our stress until it is too late, thus becoming stressed about stress!
GirlTrek is ending this cycle in their own way by hosting #StressProtest, an outlet for Black women specifically to come out to Estes Park, CO, engage in a plethora of self-care activities and bond through sisterhood, emotional release, physical movement, and positive mental health tools. As we continue the discussion of how to live more mindfully about our busy lives and deal with stress, I had a chance to speak with a few workshop hosts for #StressProtest. Peep their ideas below on how they manage their stress levels and decompress!
Jewel Bush, GirlTrek's National Communications Director
"It's simple, by not becoming stressed by stress. This may sound over simplistic or flippant, but the only way to stop is to stop. You must make it up in your mind to stop, to not stress. Stress and worry are like rocking feverishly and vigorously in a rocking chair. You may feel like you are doing something, tending to your worries and you can sustain this for a while, but ultimately you will tire and realize that you have not gone anywhere and have not done anything except work yourself up. So often when I'm in something, really grappling with a concern of mine, investing my mental and spiritual energy in it, I have to get real with myself and command myself to stop. Reading each morning helps ground me before I begin my day. It pushes me to slow down and reflect. This also helps me not get swallowed whole by daily aggravations and scrapes.
Nearly a decade ago, I began reading Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. She discussed the concept of shenpa, the surge of emotion stemming from past or present experiences that have negative feelings associated with them and when not acknowledged pulls us back into our habitual patterns of anger, conflict and shutting down. She calls it a hooked feeling. This resonated so deeply for me because I noticed this very pattern in myself, which led me to making things worse. If I were mad or sad about something, then I would brood and spend time dredging up every sad or mad thought I'd ever had in my entire life. Like 'you already, feel bad Jewel, so why not feel worse?' This isn't easy. I wrestle with this often, but at least I am aware and after years of working on myself, I know my triggers and can sometimes cut them off at the pass."
Jeanine T. Abraham - Rhythm Therapy
"Stress is a part of my life. Figuring out how to coexist with stress is my constant challenge, so my tools include a daily 10-minute morning meditation, listening to positively charged music, intense weight training, yoga, conscious dance, and writing. Our time on this planet is limited. Meditation reminds me to discipline the way I look at life in order to not waste as little of my precious life on worry, particularly worrying about things I can't control. Vigorous physical activity keeps me present, focused, emboldened to live my life alert, committed to my freedom and in the present moment."
Leslie Jones - AfroFlow Yoga
"I think there is good stress and then bad stress, and I feel like often times I think of stress as something we can release. For example, if you take a glass of water and you hold it in your hand in front of you. If you hold it for five minutes it's going to be very light. But if you hold that glass for an hour you're going to be sweating and shaking and it's going to cause pain. That's the way I think of stress. Stress comes to me with trying to keep up with things and being online. What stresses me out is the blue light from the computer and the phone, So I unplug and reset.
Going into nature is also big part of releasing stress for me. And of course I have my tools like meditation, breathing, yoga and I go on walks and run. These happen regardless if I have stress or not, and happen almost daily. There are always urban stresses as well. If there are certain things that are self created behaviors that cause me stress, I typically like to look at them and try to change them. Some things are within my control. So when I recognize the stressors that are within my control that are self created, I tweak them, and if they are outside of my control like a negative person or a negative situation, I tend to recognize that that is not in my control, but I can control how I react to that situation."
Thank you to these three women for speaking with me, and make sure to catch these ladies at the mountaintop this weekend where they each will be hosting various workshops for the attendees!
So how do you manage stress and avoid becoming stressed out about stress?
Let us know below, or let's talk it out on Facebook.
Don't forget to follow GirlTrek for info on their work and NC on IG where I will be sharing #StressProtest in our stories!