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How Can Women in Accounting Manage Their Stress?

Have you ever heard of the Black Superwoman Syndrome?

Even if the phrase doesn’t ring a bell, odds are you’ve experienced it—especially as Black women in finance. Let’s take a second to review:

According to Dr. Cheryl L. Woods-Giscombe, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Nursing, this syndrome is made up of five major behaviors:

  • Obligation to manifest strength

  • Obligation to suppress emotions

  • Resistance to being vulnerable or dependent

  • Determination to success despite significantly limited resources

  • An obligation to help others

This syndrome is incredibly common among Black women—but particularly among Black women in predominantly white-led workplaces. You know, like accounting, where less than 1% of CPAs in the U.S. are Black?

While some of these behaviors can enable Black women to excel and come into leadership roles in these industries, they’re also detrimental to your mental health. And from there, it’s only a matter of time before your lack of mental wellbeing affects your career, your family, and the rest of your personal life.

So, how can you healthily manage the different stressors in your life and come out the other side?

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to sit down with licensed therapist, mental health expert, and the Host of the show Love Goals on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Spirit, about how you can take care of your mental health and manage your stress in the finance and accounting field.

A headshot of Spirit, with short hair, black earrings and a necklace, and a black top. She has her left hand underneath her chin.
Spirit is the Owner and Clinical Director of the Atlanta-based mental health practice, T2S Enterprises, LLC, has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in EBONY Magazine. Photo via Twitter.

The good stress

There are different types of stress—not all stress is created equal! While many different kinds of stress are harmful, there is also good stress. And it’s important to learn how to recognize it!

The good kind of stress is called eustress. Eustress is the kind of stress that allows you to be in touch with your body and what you feel.

This is what motivates you to get out of bed every day, it’s what pumps your blood, it’s what keeps you going.

This is the stress that keeps you productive, functioning, and living a high quality of life.

Two people in white sit at a desk in a brightly-lit room with a laptop open in front of them. They're both smiling and looking at the screen.
Forget the cup of coffee—you're motivated to wake up all on your own!

What does this look like? Eustress can come from starting a new job, moving into a new home, or having a child, just to name a few examples.

The defining characteristic here is that eustress comes from things that do cause stress, but ultimately make you happy.