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Black Americans need to reduce stress levels by any means necessary

By Vernon A. Williams

The challenges we face as a nation, as people, are going to work out. It will require our being informed and getting involved in the change. Progress is inevitable. We are going to work through even the most serious crisis and make it to the other side. This week you are encouraged to enhance your chance of surviving to enjoy the victory.

Stress kills. That’s not a truism, it is a medical fact. October is the month set aside to deal head on with some of the mental challenges that we face in this society, particularly depression and those issues that result from anxiety. Generally speaking, there are two forms of stress. Denial of either only contributes to greater frustration and risks.

Types of Stress

  • Acute stress, the most common form of stress, is short-term and stems from the demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. This is the kind of stress associated with feckless leadership in our nation in critical times.
  • Chronic stress, a long-term form of stress, derives from unending feelings of despair or hopelessness, as a result of factors such as poverty, family dysfunction, feelings of helplessness and/or traumatic early childhood experience. Chronic stressors associated with health disparities include racism as well as the pressure associated with a bad neighborhood stress, family unrest, discrimination, environmental stress and workplace disorder.

When a person experiences stress, certain hormones – specifically, catecholamines and cortisol – are released. You don’t need to memorize the medical terminology. Just know that the long-term effect of these two can seriously disrupt almost all of the body’s processes and increase the risk for numerous health problems.

Sufferers become more at risk for coronary vascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cognitive impairment, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders as well as depression. Stress can prematurely age the immune system. African-Americans from grade school children to adults suffer illnesses associated with those of considerably more advanced age.

While stress hurts everyone, the impact is far worse in the Black community. Factors include the presence of poverty, inadequate health care, unhealthy environment, underemployment and job pressures along with overall societal bias. The struggle is real. The pain you experience is neither a reflection of paranoia nor personal weakness.

The primary recommendation for anyone who feels caught up these days is to seek help. It may come in the form of a mental health practitioner. You may seek counsel from whatever church or religious leadership you enjoy. Countless reliable and informative resources can be “googled” day and night on the Internet. Be open and honest with those closest to you, in whom you place most trust. Share stories with those having like issues.

The important thing to know is that something CAN be done in response to your condition and that you are not alone. Recognizing the issue within yourself and being open to effective ways in which to cope is half the victory won.

Combine the confidence of knowing that you can be better prepared to deal with your situation and that those stimuli that precipitate the need are often temporary. Remember profound wisdom that came in the vernacular of the respected elderly of our community who said simply, “Troubles don’t last always.”

Bottom line, we need you brothers and sisters to do the right thing. Stop eating all that drive-through window and even home-cooked fried food. Throw in more vegetables, fruit. Get in a little workout, even if it’s parking in the space furthest from the store or office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Go to your doctor and if there is an issue, catch it early. Drink water and plenty of it. Get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

We can’t help some of the threatening elements that come toward us on a regular basis, but we can better control those things that we control. And this other stuff, don’t watch cable news morning to night. Don’t get caught up in the dirty tricks or be distracted by the evil of those in power. In God’s time, the evil will be vanquished. It is no longer a matter of “if” – it is “when.” We want you to still be around for the victory celebration.

May you be blessed to live long and well!

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected]

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