Take Care of Your Spirit
Women wear many hats and fulfill many roles. It is not uncommon for women to operate in several roles simultaneously. Very often all that women do happens at the expense of our well being.
One of the key things busy women have to remember to do, says my friend Michelle Gourdine, M.D. is take care of ourselves. The key to our well being said Dr. Gourdine, is taking care of our spirit. It is crucial to preventing disease states that plague Black women disproportionately.
Frankly, I didn’t understand the linkage here at first. If taking care of our spirit is critical to our overall health and well being, then how is it that Black women, who attend church more than any other group of people, can be so impacted by life threatening diseases.
“Square that for me Dr. Michelle”, I said.
“Stress”, she said, “is the culprit.” Then we both had an Aha! moment. Taking care of your spirit is more than just going to church and having a strong faith.
In her book, “Reclaiming Our Health”, Dr. Michelle notes “Intermittent stress is normal and generally not harmful. The stress response allows us to fight off or escape from other emergencies requiring quick action.”
“For some people, however, stress is more than an occasional response to a random threat – it is a way of life. Their daily lives generate a constant stream of anxiety that never allows the stress response to shut off.”
As it turns out, your body can’t tell the difference between an immediate short term danger and a long term habit of burning both ends of the candle. As women, particularly busy and over committed women, our stress button can be stuck in the on position
Stress is catabolic energy, meaning over the long term, it is destructive. The affects of an always on stress button are the constant flow of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline into the body which can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and a weakened immune system. And the other thing none of us want – premature aging.
When my clients take the YOU 3.0 Energy Leadership assessment, (an assessment that objectively indicates a person’s anabolic and catabolic energy profile) it is not uncommon for the results to indicate a tremendous amount of stress in their lives.
Here are 4 things you can do to take care of your spirit*:
- Take time for yourself. You must take time to recharge and rejuvenate. You can’t do a good job of taking care of others if your tank is empty. Create stress busters – mini quiet breaks that let your mind rest. Also, take your vacation. Whether you work for a company or for yourself, there is almost never a good time to take vacation. Plan it, plan for it, and take it.
- Just Say No!! How often do you find yourself over extended with too much on your plate? Don’t commit to more than you can reasonably do excellently. Just as important is not feeling guilty about saying no. Protect your time and your sanity by setting personal boundaries. For example: do not answer e-mails while on vacation and don’t answer the phone during family time. This will seem impossible at first, but once you set boundaries and train would-be offenders, this is not as difficult as it sounds.
- Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We all need help at one point or another. Seek out a listening non-judgmental ear from a pastor or close friend or a professional coach. If you think your situation is more urgent, do not hesitate to seek the advice and counsel from a mental health professional such as a counselor or therapist. There is no need to go it alone.
- Walk. Not only will walking help clear your head, this form of exercise is one of the best ways to counter the effects of stress hormone levels.
*Source: Adapted from Reclaiming Our Health, A Guide to African American Wellness: Three Steps to Detoxifying Your Life; Michelle A. Gourdine, M.D.
So ladies, as you plot and plan how to take over the world, schedule some time for yourself in that busy calendar. There is no one more important to you in your world than you. Take the time to take good care of your spirit.
Drop me a note to learn more about your stress profile and developing strategies to better manage the situations that trigger your stress.
Remember, life is about choices. What will you choose for you today?
Coach D. Gray-Young, CPC, ELI-MP Certified Personal and Executive Coach
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me @coachdgrayyoung
Dr. Gourdine is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology/Preventive Medicine University of Maryland School of Medicine and Senior Associate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
©2014 D. Gray-Young Previously published on the B.O.S.S. Network