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How does lifestyle contribute to stress? Evaluate recent cross-cultural research.

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How does lifestyle contribute to stress? Evaluate recent cross-cultural research. Stress is the response to an event, conditions, or an environment that gives 'out-of-the-ordinary' stimulation. It elicits a hormonal response physiologically that is aimed at dealing with the arousing stimulus, the stressor, by directing energy supplies where they are needed. Lifestyle can have a significant contribution to stress because it mediates the types and degree of stressor that a person will encounter. The term lifestyle is difficult to define but is a broad expression for a person's 'way of life' that is affected by diet, occupation, social interaction, family composition, physical activity level, and also the environment where they live and work. Different aspects of a person's lifestyle can expose them to stress such as a 'stressful' job and the relative instability of their situation. As stress is a reaction to unhabituated stimulus a lifestyle that exposes people to changing conditions and uncertainty can contribute to stress. This is seen in modernizing societies like those in Samoa where new urban lifestyles mean people are exposed to different stresses than in traditional rural villages due to changes in diet, occupation and where they live, these features interconnect to compound the stress problem showing that stress is caused by complex interactions not a single stressor. Social interaction can be a way of buffering stress and the effects of this can be seen in the different levels of stress between women in Samoa. ...read more.


and interact with people outside the household and village therefore their interactions were done in the pursuit of leisure whereas the other women's interactions were confined to the household and work settings which were a source of stress so interactions within those setting were also stressful (Pearson et al, 1993: 55). Social support is also useful for alleviating stress by sharing the problem or finding a solution (McGarvey, 1999:249). Samoans are enculturated to suppress anger and it is a feature of adult social interaction. In a modern area of Samoa anger suppression among women with a low educational background who are exposed to the new economic, social and material lifestyle opportunities in those modernised areas can elevate stress and blood pressure levels. By not expressing negative emotions such as anger psychophysiological arousal is unbuffered and so causes more stress (McGarvey, 1999: 272). In this case it is exposure to another lifestyle that contributes to stress. Another study on Samoa indicates several features of lifestyle conducive to stress. Lifestyle incongruity is the consumption of material goods, to acquire social status, that are not within one's means. This contributes to a psychological burden due to worrying about maintaining an expensive material lifestyle. Among young Samoan men in a peri-urban village those with high levels of lifestyle incongruity had high norepinephrine and epinephrine levels (McGarvey, 1999: 249&269). This show that 'living beyond one's means' is a source of stress. Status inconsistency also contributed to stress, that is where a person has an occupation that does not match their level of education. ...read more.


In the children of exiles this produces stress over uncertainty of identity as they are obliged to consider themselves Chilean because of their parents while never having been there (Flores-Borquez, 2000: 218). An exiled lifestyle leads to stress from insecurity about identity and lack of acceptance in the dominant host population. Analysis of catecholamines can objectively measure levels of stress in individuals. Several features of lifestyle such as increased modernisation, lifestyle incongruity, social interaction and family composition can all contribute to the level of stress experienced by a person. In Samoa an urban lifestyle is shown to cause an increase in stress while rural village life is less stressful according to catecholamine levels. Variations in stress levels can be explained by a more traditional home environment among urban labourers which reduces their overnight catecholamine level. Other variations such as that between epinephrine levels in women can be explained by the perception of stimuli as a stressor or not, American Samoan women do not view social interaction as stressful and it therefore acts as a buffer to reduce stress caused by other thing. Among Caribbean children family composition and the child's status within the family have a consequence for increased stress. In Chilean exiles their situation within the host country influences their adoption of an idealised view of their homeland which cause problems for children identifying with the host country and cause identity conflicts. These cross-cultural examples help to show that many features of lifestyle have important consequences for stress and these vary within and between cultures depending on individual and community circumstances. ...read more.

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