The Pomodoro Technique Can Be an Act of Resistance

For black women, it’s especially crucial to protect your focus

Verdell Walker


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TThe “strong black woman” is a familiar trope in American culture, embodied by heroines ranging from Harriet Tubman to Florida Evans to Beyoncé. Black women are indeed strong — we have to be — but some of us are now rejecting the archetype, and the emotional labor it requires of us.

For one thing, it often demands that we swallow our pain and hurt in the name of “pressing on.” A study published in a recent issue of the research journal Sex Roles even suggested that seeing oneself as a “strong black woman” requires self-silencing (suppressing one’s needs to cater to others), and is related to higher levels of depressive symptoms.

For me, it was a stress-induced anxiety attack at work (precipitated by a computer failure before an impossible deadline) that prompted me to get serious about my mental health, and let go of the unrealistic expectations I had set for myself in my corporate career. I slowly rebuilt my life, adopting new habits including journaling, meditation, regular prayer time — and the Pomodoro Technique.

Now, before I even answer emails in the morning, I start my timer.