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In present times, widening disparities have been observed between stress levels experienced by African Americans and White Americans. Although this has mainly been attributed to the level of income and the standards of living, there are other underlying factors that should be addressed if this trend is to be reversed. The most outstanding factors are income, race and occupation. These have been found to be interlinked since most African Americans have little education. This implies that they are mainly employed in low-income jobs which are known to be stressful. On the other hand, most White Americans are employed in jobs which either have an average or higher than average pay. Not only has occupational stress among African Americans raised the alarm at the staggering frequency but it has also led to widespread research as to how a solution can be attained.
Stress can be defined as any change in the human body that affects its normal functioning. It can be caused by being too emotional such as getting fired. This leads to stress due to the subsequent overwhelming sadness. In addition, some physical body changes in life, such as sickness, excessive heat, cold and noise can cause stress. Avoiding stress entirely in one's life can be very difficult. However, stress management tools can be implemented so as to reduce stress (Matheny, 2003).
Since white Americans and African Americans have diverse standards of living, the effects of stress vary. However, in some instances, stress will tend to affect them equally. It is also notable that there are various ailments that are related to stress. The most common stress related ailment is ulcers which cause pain due to the open wounds along the stomach walls. Such effects are not discriminative. Hence, such effects may be experienced by white Americans or African Americans.
Stress causes imbalance in the production of hormones. If stress is not managed in advance, it may induce opportunistic infections and other related ailments such as fibroid tumors and reduced fertility. Heart related diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure are mainly stress related. It is notable that most African Americans who face severe poverty are likely to be affected when compared to white Americans who have higher than average standards of living. Stress is mostly accompanied by fatigue, body ache, headache or emotional disorders such as depression, lack of sleep and anxiety. Stress also causes lower abdominal pain and abdominal disorders. It may also lead to reduced response in the immune system making one vulnerable to minor infections such as common cold.
Cases of job related stress have been witnessed frequently among both white Americans and African Americans. Such stress has become a menace and has been observed to vary with the state of the economy. This implies that in bad economic times, such as the recent global recession, cases of stress were higher than average. Job related stress cuts across professions in various industries, ranks held and social-economic status. Effects of stress at the workplace are also felt at home. This creeps into the family and adversely affects relationships at homes. This has been evidenced by the high cases of divorce and separations.
Various persons suffer from assorted forms of stress. A major form of stress is eustress also referred to as good stress. This is a form of stress that keeps people lively and happy about life. Such persons usually have accepted their situations and taken a step towards living with their situations. Most African Americans sometimes tend to admire the white Americans way of life. Such persons endeavor to copy the White Americans' way of life including those attributes that they cannot achieve. This therefore causes depression and a feeling of worry as they try to answer the question, 'why not me?'
Another major form of stress is acute stress. This form is not plainly evident in an individual and only becomes apparent over time. If managed in advance, it may not be extremely harmful to the individual. However, neglect of such situations may lead to chronic stress. This is very harmful and comes along with other major effects of stress. It is mainly evident in persons who are exposed to continuous cases of stress generating activities (Cooper, 2004).
Most African Americans who work for white Americans are likely to experience job strain, lack of involvement in decision-making, low support either financially or socially, low rewards upon good performance in their jobs and low job security. All these factors are likely to lead to stress which culminates to chronic stress and related body disorders such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Although, this has been witnessed among some of the white American employees, such cases are not as frequent as in African Americans.
Some social-economic problems such as poverty may also lead to chronic stress. As a matter of fact, poverty has been observed as a major contributory factor towards stress. Most African Americans live below the poverty line. Hence, they are more vulnerable to stress in comparison to white Americans. Lower ranking jobs are normally associated with higher levels of stress mainly due to the fact that such jobs have lower levels of income. Therefore such employees have to struggle in order to make ends meet. This has been the case in America whereby such low ranking jobs are held by African Americans.
In some instances, stress has led to negative thoughts such as rape, murder and suicide. Such misdeeds have been experienced in various low-income residential areas. However, stress related misdeeds are not tied to low-income earners. Some well-known individuals such as pop-stars have been known to turn to drugs as an effect of career related stress. Occasionally, under the influence of such drugs, they have been known to attack media men or personal aids in the process causing grave injuries. Cases of suicide may be committed by persons who have dependants. This consequently means that the young ones will lack someone to care for them. This may lead to a vicious cycle where such children also suffer from stress. Stress has been known to cause high infant mortality and possible death in school going children. There is therefore a need to address stress as the root cause of various problems rather than treating the associated effects (Lazarus, 1984)
Stressed individuals, especially those under job related strain, have little time for other activities other than their work. Hence, such persons have been observed to consume junk food as they endeavor to save time. Sugary foods lead to weight problems which have been directly linked to diabetes. Persons who are overweight are also exposed to various heart conditions such as stroke and cardiac arrest. Therefore, this becomes an obvious risk to their health.
As a result, stress should be avoided at all costs. Although both white Americans and African Americans suffer from stress, most cases have been observed among African Americans due to various factors such as poverty, racial discrimination and poor economic status. Both races should try to avoid stress by practicing various suitable health stress management techniques. Most stressors can only be eliminated by having a positive and upbeat attitude towards life and the various situations one may be facing at a particular point. An appropriate attitude should be adopted on an emotional, physical and social basis. Such methods include engaging in regular exercises, talking about important issues to a confidant or a counselor and avoiding stressful activities.