Respect your struggle: Handling work stress like a boss

It is the role of every entrepreneur and businesswoman to produce, to create and to generate effectively so that we can see the results that we desire. This comes with a huge sense of responsibility and decision making,  and at times it can be overwhelming, leading one to feel burnt out.

This is a world of constant doing and little resting, which can result in high levels of stress, fatigue and even psychic tension. The other side to this industry is the exposure to failure and rejection and when not handled well, it can wear down our self-esteem and tug at our insecurities.

Here, some tips for handling work-related stress and anxiety, and learning how to take better care of your number one asset: You.

Check in with yourself on a regular basis.

When I rise in the morning the first thing I do is pray + meditate. This helps me to find my center and to be aware of any unwanted feelings or emotions that I may be carrying over from the previous day into the new.

I want to start my day with fresh energy, unbothered by the things from my past. As the day progresses, I sometimes stop all that I am doing and I either go for a walk or I’ll sit in my backyard to soak in my surroundings and to find my calm.

I’ve made it a habit to make sure that I am finding the time to eat healthy- to balance not only my body but also my mind. I will stop my work to make a meal or have a snack 3-6x a day so that I am not feeling depleted or simply starving myself because of the mentality that I am too busy.

Quick — do this if you’re overwhelmed.

  • Focus on your breathes- as you inhale, receive a spirit of gentleness and take in the positivity that is orbiting around you. As you exhale, release yourself from the tension that you may be feeling and rid yourself of your fears, doubts or worries. This is a simple 1-minute mediation that can bring calm to your spirit and can even be done on the go, in the office, or at home.
  • Talk to someone about something unrelated to whatever is bringing you stress. This is not avoidance; it is learning how to recognize all that is taking place in the world around you. You become aware of the good that is in your atmosphere, you’ll cultivate a sense of peace, and you will be able to bring that calming energy back into whatever you were doing with a different perspective.
  • Drink some orange juice. It sounds silly, but here’s why: eating healthy is the best way to rejuvenate your mind when exposed to stress and anxiety. Stress is known for depleting the body of vitamin C; meanwhile, vitamin C is known for reducing the production of stress hormones and for the growth and repair of tissues. Having two 8-ounce glasses of orange juice can help with replenishing your loss of vitamin C and can help you with staying rejuvenated.

Accept that nothing will ever be perfect.

The problem with wanting to be perfect is that perfectionism is not real, therefore you will be spending the rest of your life striving to be something that does not exist- it is simply vapor, a mere chasing after the wind. I encourage woman not to focus on being perfect, focus on being better. Within the journey you will fail, you will fall and you will make mistakes because that is what human beings do.

Playing it safe is not rewarding, nor is it gratifying and I believe living life is a risk worth taking. Learn how to practice compassion towards yourself, applaud yourself for trying and show yourself some grace. Instead of highlighting every flaw, embrace your individuality because that is what gives you power. Instead of belittling yourself for making mistakes, be open to the lessons that you can learn through failure.

The love that you cultivate towards yourself will be your calm through the storm and will be the healer of your wounds. The only way to be the best version of yourself is to improve upon the ways that you can be a better person, not a perfect person.

Don’t be scared to seek professional help.

There are many online sources that can help with connecting you to a therapist in your area. A very popular and trusted source is Psychology Today; here you can find a therapist that specializes in your particular needs and all credentials must be verified which helps with making them a trusted source.

Your search doesn’t solely have to be online though, ask around and seek referrals from people that you know that have a good relationship with their therapist or might know of someone who can connect you to a therapist. As you search, don’t be afraid to shop around—the average therapist always starts off with an intake session to assess your needs, be mindful of the energy that you feel and if there is a potential to build rapport. If you don’t like the vibes—simply move on.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions- generally people want to know what is the treatment modality? Is it CBT, dialectic, psychoanalytic or something else? How long is a session and how frequently are you expected to show? What are some tools that you have used on your past clients that have been rendered effective? Do your research on who and what you are looking for to make the process easier and less overwhelming.

A certain amount of job stress is to be expected, but recognize when it is getting to be too much.

It is very common for stressed people to make unhealthy choices, such as little-to-no sleep, eating poorly or eating less, and smoking or drinking more caffeine or alcohol. These lifestyle changes can be an indicator that depression and anxiety are on the rise, but other symptoms may include fatigue and lack of energy, irritability and restlessness, difficulty concentrating, digestive problems, persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, fear and panic, and most importantly suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide.

Depression and anxiety are known to overlap with one another, but it is important to seek a professional opinion, for there are different treatment options for both disorders although the symptoms may correlate.

Don’t think that you’re alone.

Some of the most common misconceptions regarding depression and anxiety is the idea that only particular people can be prone to depression and some folks carry a sense of invisibility towards it. As an African-American woman who is familiar with this struggle, I was exposed to the misconstruction of depression and anxiety through cultural stigma and the conjecture that black people don’t struggle with depression, we are too strong for that, and it has been watered down by stereotypes and classified as a “white people problem.”

Globally, 350 million people suffer from depression and within the U.S, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults over the age of 18. There is a cultural perspective that depression and anxiety are forms of weaknesses, which adds to why many people shy away from owning their struggles- depression has nothing to do with how strong you are, it is a multifaceted issue that is prevalent worldwide and affects people daily.

We need to break away from the stigma correlated to mental health because the truth is- we are all susceptible to it. This is an illness that does not discriminate, nor is it selective based on race, social status, gender or age. and pretending that it can’t happen to you is not a valid preventive measure. My hope is that as a culture, we will learn to practice more compassion towards the topic so that it can help people break away from shame and find the courage to seek help.

Take it from someone who’s been there.

During my childhood years I was bullied and the continuous taunting and teasing fragmented my self-esteem. I disliked myself and I didn’t understand why I was the target for so much mockery. As I developed through life, I became severely depressed and at 16 I became suicidal. After that, I spent years in therapy and found numerous ways to seek healing- through writing, music, creative arts, and uplifting self talk. As I began to trust my healing process I always knew I wanted to help others who struggled with my story, and I went to college to become a clinical social worker.

I always thought I was alone in my suffering and it wasn’t until I sought help for myself and began to help others, that I noticed human beings are not as different from one another as we think we are. So I created Respect Your Struggle because I want people to know that there is a place where they can fit in, where they can practice vulnerability without fear, shame or regret, and to understand that their lives are worthy of its best chance.

Respecting your struggle means that you are allowed to be human. There is room for failure. You don’t have to be afraid of being different. You don’t always have to be strong. And you are accepted even when you make mistakes. You are not alone in your suffering and despite the struggles that you face, your life is deserving of its best chance. The message we want to spread is that it is okay to be everything that makes you human. Your struggles don’t define you; they are only here to equip you for the journey.

Minaa B, who is also known as Jessmina Archbold, is an LMSW, social entrepreneur and the founder of Respect Your Struggle, a movement dedicated to providing hope for people struggling with depression, mental health, and life-related issues. 

This article first appeared on Create + Cultivate.