Are you dealing with increased stress? You’re not alone. A lot of us are. As a black man living in America in 2020, I could spend all day talking about stress. I’m going to share with you how to manage stress in life and how to actually benefit from it. But first, let’s talk about what’s stressful.
I could start with the miscarriage of justice regarding the murder of Breonna Taylor, and the wanton disregard of people from black and brown communities by our nation’s criminal justice system.
Then there’s how we are disproportionately being infected and dying from COVID-19, because of a lack of access to healthcare. And there’s the stress that comes from the vast economic disparity that exist between my community and the white community.
And to top it off, my neighbors have called security on me more than 15 times in an effort to harass me and get me to move out of my condo. The security has become so fed up with the false calls that they have actually agreed to testify if I take my neighbors to court!
Yes, I can definitely spend a great deal of time talking about stress. But it is not enough to talk about it. We must do something about it. And to do something about it, we must first understand it.
Now I can give you an intellectual definition of stress from “Dr. So-N-So” who has more degrees than a thermometer but this is all you need to know:
Stress is a reaction to bad news, a bad situation, or a bad day. That reaction can be physical, emotional or both.
When I think about stress I think about Sammy Clark, a kid who ruled the school yard back when I was a kid. I was 10 years old, and a helluva dodgeball player.
Coping With Extreme Stress At School
One day my friend T.G. and I were the last two “survivors,” and I had the red ball in my hand ready to strike. I threw the ball and as it made its way to T.G.’s face. Sammy Clark ran in the path and was hit instead.
The whole school yard went silent. Sammy turned to me and said these words, “I’m gonna kill you after school.” I made nothing of it until found myself with a pistol pointing at my head. Sammy uttered the words, “I said I was going to kill you…didn’t I?”
Tears streamed down my face as I pleaded for my life. All of a sudden Sammy withdrew his weapon and left. The crowd who had gathered was disappointed because they thought they were gonna see someone get shot…yep, that’s the kind of hood I grew up in.
Take Back Your Control
Stress is a bully. It threatens us, it blames us…it tells us that we are nothing and that everything is our fault. Stress tells us that we are not worthy of love, that we are the problem, and that the world is better off without us.
But here’s the reality: Love is more powerful than stress, and hope is more powerful than your past.
So here is a principle for dealing with stress…Forgive yourself…Love yourself and take ownership of your tomorrow. Take a long hard look at that person in the mirror staring back at you and tell them, “It’s going to be alright.”"Here is a principle for dealing with stress…Forgive yourself…Love yourself and take ownership of your tomorrow." JP Forrest #stress #stressmanagement Click To Tweet
We Manage Stress In Two Ways
There are generally two ways people respond to stress. The first is a toxic response which involves engaging in destructive behavior. The second is a strategic response in which you settle yourself down and think about the best way to deal with your situation.
The Toxic Response
The toxic or self-destructive response chooses negative ways to deal with stress, such as promiscuity, substance abuse, crime, etc. Choosing a toxic response makes your situation worse and results in more stress.
Now look, everybody has a moment in which they are so stressed out that they want to “go and do something.” It’s easier to choose unhealthy ways to deal with stress, I get it. Hell, I have been there, and it nearly got me killed. There is no level of stress that you can go through in which you should go out and do stupid. Stupid choices only lead to stupid consequences.
How To Cope With Stress Better
There’s a much better way to cope with stress. When you choose the strategic response, you relieve stress by choosing productive strategies. First, calming yourself. Then, focus on problem solving.
The strategic response seeks to answer the following questions:
Figure Out Why You Are Stressed Out
Now the reason(s) could be:
- You broke (no money).
- You broke (Relationship ended).
- You broke (Physical health).
- You broke (Living situation).
- You broke (other).
Notice that all of the reasons above have a common thread…you broke.
Being broke is not limited to your financial situation. It covers all of the bases of misery in your life. But here is the good news:
You can be broke, but you don’t have to be broken!
Decide How You Are Going To Handle It
First, decide that your stressful situation is not going to get the best of you. Second, put together a game plan to address your situation. That may mean getting your college education, learning new skills, or letting go of that person you gave your love to. It could mean changing your lifestyle or seeking support from people and organizations you can trust.
What lessons does this stressful situation teach me?
Up until this moment we have been talking about a particular kind of stress known as DISTRESS, which we call “bad stress.” But there is another kind of stress, called EUSTRESS. It is “good stress.”
Eustress is good stress. It teaches you those hard lessons that come from a bad situation, at work, at home, or at school. Eustress challenges you to be better, to push yourself harder, to demand more of yourself. It does not make excuses, it makes choices…the kind of choices that result in a better, happier you.
Stress Management Techniques
If you are a human being, then at some point in time you are going to get stressed out. Stress is unavoidable and it is inevitable. There is no such thing as a “stress-free life.”
Your goal is not to avoid stress, but to learn how to manage stress in life, so that you can grow and fulfill your God-given purpose. So here are some tips on how to manage your stress.
7 Ways To Copy With Stress Well
- Identify the people and situations that stress you out and stay away from them, or minimize your exposure to them.
- Manage your time and money well.
- Learn to share and be open about your life.
- Find a release valve – this could be a hobby or activity or any fun stress relieving activities that allows you to deal with your stress.
- Make time to relax.
- Eat healthy and exercise.
- Cultivate and build healthy relationships with people who love you for you.
Coloring can be a great way to relive stress. Download our beautiful FREE inspirational coloring pages.
Some Final Thoughts On How to Manage Stress In Life
Pin this to remind you when you’re feeling stressed out.
There is no magic formula, no religion, no amount of money that will eliminate stress from your life. However, you do not have to allow stress to get the best of you. You have it in you to manage stress in life well.
Consider this: People die every day and you are still here. Still breathing. Still dreaming. Time to put that work in and go after the life you really want. And it starts with managing you, and having a team around you that will challenge you, protect you and be with you no matter what. To be your best you must manage your stress.
About The Author
JP Forrest serves on the board of Finally Family Homes and is the Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at College of the Canyons. JP travels the across the country as a speaker, and has blessed the youth at our Life Launch program, educating them in life skills.
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