Stress Awareness

Stress Awareness

As someone who sets high goals and is ambitious, I always prided myself on being able to handle a significant amount of stress.  Becoming an entrepreneur when I started Nubian Skin introduced me to an intensity of stress I had never previously experienced.

Five years in, in 2019, I had what I refer to as a stress crisis. I believe the official diagnosis was Acute Stress Syndrome. I remember Q1 of that year being pretty terrible for a lot of reasons.  I also remember struggling to get out of bed, feeling like an absolute failure, and a constant feeling of panic and overwhelm. I have an amazing support system around me, but at a point, they were there for me, but couldn’t provide the help that I needed. My husband constantly reassured me that I I was in fact not a failure, which didn’t help. Calls to my sister which consisted of heaving sobs on my part from my bed became daily.  It was at that point my sister very wisely and kindly told me that she was there for me and I could continue to call her whenever I needed, but that I needed professional help.  I dismissed her initial suggestion: I didn’t have time, I had a nice life, so why did I need a therapist? I just needed to work harder etc. A few more breakdowns later, and she simply sent the phone number I needed to call.

As someone who had never had therapy, the experience was eye opening.  I realised that while I had over the course of my life developed habits and tendencies that allowed me to accomplish many brilliant things, some of those habits also were exacerbating my inability to actually identify and deal with stress.

I am not a mental health professional, so I am not an authority on how to deal with stress. If anything, my failings are a caution to others.  From my personal experience, below are some important things I learned about managing my stress.

Key takeaways:

There is no shame in needing help

Listen to your body

Pay attention to your breath

Set boundaries with yourself


Breath work

Meditation (I love the calm app)

Self reflection (journaling is brilliant for this)

Perspective: How will I feel about the current situation in one week, one month, one year from now.

Separating fact from feeling


I personally found CBT helpful.  I didn’t need long term therapy, but I did need to be taught the tools to manage my stress and emotions effectively.

Stress is relative. It’s like pain or risk, everyone has a different tolerance level. One person may find one additional seemingly innocuous task back breaking, while someone else can take a brand new leadership position in stride while simultaneously planning a wedding. Comparing your load to anyone else’s is unhelpful, and compassion is essential as we never fully know what other battles or trials others are going through.

I’m happy to say that I’m much better at managing stress. I still feel overwhelmed at times, but I’m much better at recognising when I’m reaching unhealthy limits and taking a step back instead of diving headlong into a stress whirlwind. Stress is inevitable, but in honour of stress awareness month, I urge you to assess how you deal with stress in your life and if it is problematic seek help and / or advice.


- Ade Hassan, MBE

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