New Series: Black women & Fighting Stress

black woman having head ache Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

This next part of the series on Stress, I’ve thought more about the fight we have with stress. In my previous post, I talked about the need for us Black women to recognise the need to manage stress

The ** World Health Organization define stress as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives”. I’m sure like me you have numerous examples of dealing with different stressful situations. Whether it’s a job interview, family pressures or juggling multiple priorities. Yes stress often plays a big part in our lives.

Types of Stress

This might seem obvious to some but I know that sometimes we don’t realise when we are stressed. It’s even worse when we don’t understand that the worse types of stress can affect our minds and bodies adversely.

The emotional and mental stress which can make us feel tearful. It may even have you questioning your positive decisions. Or you might loose your temper more often, in ways that wouldn’t usually happen. The toll that stress can take on you physically and your body is having an upset stomach, inability to sleep or losing your appetite. I believe that your hair and skin can also suffer when you’re under extreme, pro-longed stress. Hair shedding is also associated with a physical symptom of stress.

I have decided that spiritual stress is a category we should also acknowledge and talk about. This is the type of stress where you feel uneasy, cannot rest emotionally or mentally. Nothing brings joys and no matter what you do, you feel like something isn’t right with a situation or your life.


What are we Black women fighting with?

First I was thinking about where stress comes from and while the list is endless, I felt like these are 3 of the areas us Black women have battles in:


Whether it’s the opinions of family members or the reputation we want to maintain at work. This can bring alot of pressure with it and the feelings we aren’t enough.

Being a wife and/or a mother brings the assumptions that you will do or be a certain way. Women are often given the impression that they should put themselves last or forget who they really are, along with their hopes and dreams. For us Black women, I feel like either we are not expected to achieve anything or when we try we are expected to fail. When you add the ‘angry Black woman’ label to this, there is the expectation we will be argumentative, disruptive and unapproachable – unable to conduct ourselves properly. It’s a heavy expectation to ‘wear’ and can bring a stress that attacks us mentally and emotionally.


I’ll start this paragraph with the word ‘pressure’. Thinking about white society and stress on Black women reminds me about the pressure we all often feel. In workplaces, school, social groups and society in general alot of us know how it feels to spend alot of time trying to fit in. Whether that’s straightening our hair to hide our curls. Or having to accept less recognition and rewards for our hard work, inequality continues to create stress on every level for Black women.

If it doesn't serve you, then it's time to put it down


We often see situations where our culture is under attack. From the word ‘woke’ being twisted and mis-used by right wing media or being silenced when decisions are being made which affect us (for example, the DEI programmes being dismantled without input from Black people). The attacks on our Beautiful Black skin continue and at times in a way that isn’t obvious. Being side-lined and not given true equality in society in general. Still, we love and honour our culture in a world that doesn’t see us as equal. Yes, the stress we encounter while trying to navigate these situations can take a toll on our health.

Where to get help for managing stress?

I hold my hands up and admit that I have often gone through long periods of stress and not realised how dangerous it is for us. Yes it is easier said than done to recognise when we’re going through this. But I hope this Blog will help you to think about it and look for how you can employ strategies to manage every type of stress. Above all, taking time to think about it and address it is a positive start.

I’ll publish the last part in this Black women & Stress management series soon, so keep checking here.

NHS links to managing stress:

The NHS website has a number of useful resources, with some tips including be more active, talk to someone and positive thinking – more information is at the following link:


**World Health Organization – Articles on Stress and managing health:

How do you manage stress? Leave your comments below:

#Afrwomanonline #Blackwomenshealth #Stress #Stressawareness

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