Stress Prevention and Reduction: An Overview – 14 Part Series
What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action.
Stress can be a motivator. It can be essential to survival. The “fight-or-flight” mechanism can tell us when and how to respond to danger. However, if this mechanism is triggered too easily, or when there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.
Key Stress Triggers for communities of color:
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.
Unhealthy choices, and lifestyle practices that can cause stress, include:
- 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 people of color understand the symptoms of stress, and adopt techniques to prevent and reduce them.
African Americans are often exposed to experiences that are very different from most of Whites. Many African-American women have high rates of stress associated with lifestyle demands, especially for those who have single adult households. Reasons for these disparities are sometimes understood, but often not. Depression, more common in women than men, has been linked to factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Click here for article “Watch Over Your Heart – Includes Special Information for Women”.
Click here for Part One of the of the stress prevention and reduction series.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!