April is “Stress Awareness Month” and it’s time to acknowledge how stress is impacting our lives, especially within the Bangladeshi community. As a first-generation and eldest daughter, there was a time in my life when I had been addicted to stress. High levels of stress were a norm in my home as I watched my parents sacrifice their own happiness to make a living for their children. What they were failing to realize was how stress was slowly killing them.
Growing up, I watched stress become an unconscious addiction for the elders of my family; they stressed over finances, over raising their kids in a way that seemed “perfect” to them, and over finding the balance between the western world and their Bangladeshi cultures/traditions. Stress is our body’s reaction to such challenges. Furthermore, stress is an emotion and a contributing factor to the physical tension that is passed down from generation to generation.
My parents faced many challenges. They left their motherland behind to create a better life for their children in a foreign country. They worked difficult jobs to provide for us while struggling to communicate in the English language. In 2018, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer with no trace of this cancer in her family tree. Looking back, it was easy to determine that her cancer was due to the high levels of stress she had endured for years and continues to endure. But, it didn’t have to be that way.
For most of us, we fail to recognize and acknowledge how stress negatively impacts our mind, body and soul. In fact, there are tons of medical conditions and illnesses affiliated to stress such as high blood pressure, anxiety, heart-attacks and cancer, just to name a few.
The obstacles that our parents faced and continue to face are far from anything we, first-generation children, will ever understand, but the importance of controlling stress in each of our lives remains universal. Here, right now, as we explore the importance of bringing mental health awareness to our Bangladeshi community, it is equally as important to bring awareness on how to control our stress levels.
There are several ways to release stress including meditating, which allows you to sit with your thoughts, acknowledge which thoughts are no longer serving you, allow those thoughts to flow through and then release them from your mind. Another way to release stress is through journaling, by writing down whatever is weighing heavy on your mind and feeling the energy of releasing those thoughts as you put your pen to paper. For releasing stress more instantly, one can take slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to send a calming signal straight to your brain which then relaxes your body. Since our mind and body are connected, another effective way to release stress is through movement and that can be as simple as going for a walk. One can also take a bath or shower to allow the water to wash away any tension in the mind and body. There are many more ways to release stress including, Emotional Freedom Technique, and Hypnotherapy, both of which I do with my clients. But all the above tools and techniques mentioned are ones that anyone can do on their own at any given time.
Understand that you can let go of high levels of stress. You have the power over your mind and what you focus on. Stress does not have to ruin your life like it has for so many of us already. So, share this message with your loved ones and bring these stress relief practices into your homes and into your communities. The purpose here is simple: a reminder of the birthright we have of living stress free.