5 Ways to Relieve Stress as a Young Black Man
Young adulthood can be tough and full of stressful situations. We might be living away from home for the first time, missing family and friends, and feeling alone in a new place. We might be in charge of our own food, clothing, shelter, and sleep schedules for the first time—and not always managing so well. We might be encountering new and difficult jobs or having relationship problems. A lot of us are worried about finances. Our encounters with racism and discrimination in daily life also add to our burdens. Sometimes there are a lot more problems than pleasures.
All of these stresses can leave the young black man exhausted, irritable, or sad. When this goes unchecked, deterioration in mental health might be inevitable.
Over time, there has been a growing culture of stigma and discrimination around the subject of mental health, thus, making it extremely difficult for people to share their mental health journey or access treatment. Although the prevalence of mental health in men is lower than in women, women are more likely to be open about their mental health than men, thus, receiving treatment compared to men.
Men are more likely to be discreet about their mental health due to various myths and/or cultures that perceive men as strong, with no iota of weakness. There are also cultural and social expectations for men to exercise control over their emotions and portray leadership qualities. The consequence of these expectations is the likelihood for men to suppress their emotions than women, even in the midst of challenging times.
Sometimes, if not managed well, stress can lead to symptoms of depression. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to manage or relieve stress on a regular basis.
- Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support, including friends, family, and community or religious organizations.
- Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
- Set priorities: Decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
- Exercise regularly—just 30 minutes per day of easy walking or other exercises can help boost your mood and reduce stress… or explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.
- Recognize signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress can wreak havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress, but you have a lot more control than you might think. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure, and meet challenges head-on.