When was the last time you did a stress check? The truth is, there is no over-the-counter test to accurately measure when you are pushing the limit on your stress level. Sure, there are watches and online surveys, and a heart stress test that doctors can perform to determine how your heart is holding up. But unfortunately, stress itself can often go undetected, and you may not realize you’re pushing yourself too hard until something like your heart fights back, and by that time it may be too late. While there is no proof that stress leads to heart attacks, it certainly doesn’t help. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart, disease, obesity, and diabetes, which can kill you. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States, and if you’re a Black woman, you fare even worse when it comes to those statistics. April happens to be my born month, and to me it represents the beginning of new things -- the arrival of spring, and an opportunity to begin anew. However, it is also a time when I take a personal inventory of my own stressors; the people, places, and things that may not be contributing to my happiness. The term “spring cleaning” doesn’t only hold true for those household items you have been needing to get rid of, spring cleaning can also be a perfect opportunity to “clear out” all of the baggage you’ve been shouldering far too long at the expense of your mental, physical and emotional health. As women, we are, by nature, the ultimate multitaskers. But that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to keep piling more and more tasks on your never-ending to-do list. At some point, if you want to live your life as the best possible version of yourself, you are going to have to have a heart to heart with your stressors. For years, when I was a news anchor and reporter running the streets of New York City, chasing breaking news and some of the most depressing stories of the day, I found myself perpetually stressed out. Every day was another big story that had to be told right away, under a tight deadline, and there was seldom time to eat or catch my breath. But that’s when I learned the importance of mandating a wake-up routine that includes exercise, prayer and meditation.
Implementing this work-life balance in my own life has made a world of difference — not a single health condition to report! So, like the hands of the daylight savings clock, let’s spring forward together and develop new habits, new possibilities and a new attitude! But if the thought of all this change stresses you out... just breathe.