Stress Prevention & Reduction for Minorities: Part 1 of 8 Parts

 

Stress can often lead to unhealthy lifestyles and practices, and these patterns can cause more stress.  Furthermore, poor choices made under stress, like the following can eventually lead to more stress and illness.

It is therefore very important that multicultural or minority populations understand the symptoms of stress, and adopt techniques to prevent and reduce the possibility of their experiencing negative distress, or distress, and the many diseases that are directly or indirectly associated with stress.

 

Stress is our internal physical, mental and emotional responses to outside pressures and demands. Dr. Hans Selye, widely considered the “father of stress research”, pointed out that stress is associated with positive experiences as well as negative experiences. He called favorable producers of stress, like getting married or buying a new home, eustress, and he called negative producers of stress, like the death of a loved one, or a divorce, distress.

Continuous or repeat exposure to distressing experiences – like school related stress, domestic violence, and on-the-job stress – can damage a person’s physical and emotional health. Approaches to stress reduction include walking, exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. These and other approaches to stress prevention and reduction are discussed below in the Section on Approaches to Stress Reduction.

Key Stress Triggers for Multicultural/Minority Populations

In many multicultural or minority communities and population groups, there is a greater likelihood of stress because of such situations as:

  • More unemployment and underemployment
  • Lack of health insurance or inadequate health insurance in spite of a greater burden from racial and ethnic health disparities
  • Decreased health literacy, although it is greatly needed to decrease racial and ethnic health disparities
  • Decreased access to opportunities for stress prevention and reduction
  • Greater exposure to classism because of a greater likelihood of economic disadvantage including poverty
  • Greater exposure to racism, with its multiple stress-producing results.

Stress can often lead to unhealthy lifestyles and practices, and these patterns can cause more stress. Furthermore, poor choices made under stress, like the following, can eventually lead to more stress and illness:

  • Smoking                                                                                         Image preview
  • Excess intake of alcoholic beverages
  • Eating too much fast food
  • Becoming a couch potato
  • Participating in, or accepting, violent behavior

It is therefore very important that multicultural or minority populations understand the symptoms of stress, and adopt techniques to prevent and reduce the possibility of their experiencing negative distress, or distress, and the many diseases that are directly or indirectly associated with stress.

Common Physical, Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms of Stress

Physical Symptoms of Stress

 

repeat headaches neck pains
backaches skin problems
dry mouth or throat overeating
loss of appetite nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
fatigue (excess tiredness) muscle aches
excess sweating twitching eyelid
insomnia (difficulty sleeping) excess sleeping
heartburn heart palpitations (fast/irregular heartbeats)
rapid breathing

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

 

irritability anger
moodiness loss of concentration
restlessness nightmare
feelings of helplessness anxiety or eagerness
depression racing thoughts

Behavioral Symptoms of Stress

 

grinding teeth wrinkling forehead
foot or finger tapping increased alcohol intake
nail biting pacing the floor
hair pulling/twirling loss of interest in physical appearance
sudden change in social habits high pitched nervous laugh
putting things off (procrastination)

12 Common Negative Stressors (Causes of Distress):

  • financial problems
  • personal illness and the illness of a loved one
  • being a single parent
  • on-the-job stress including burnout
  • loss of a loved one (usually through separation, divorce or death)
  • long-term care-giving
  • troubled relationship with spouse or partner
  • difficult parent-child relationship
  • menopause
  • sexual difficulties
  • undesired change in physical appearance
  • relocation

There are, of course, many other stressors. It should be remembered that the experiences that produce good stress (or eustress), like marriages, birthday celebrations and other special events, generally cause the same symptoms of stress as the stressors that cause distress.  Much more information on Stress Prevention and Reduction is provided on the Health Power website.  Click here.

 

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