Understanding Health

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Task 1
Using evidence, write an essay showing how stress is influenced at the levels of the individual, family, locality and society. Choose one intervention at one of the levels and say why you think it could be effective in tackling the problem.

Stress is the result of varying demands on our individual resources, caused by factors present in our lives. Examples from chapters three, five and seven will be used to discuss and explain how individual, family, locality or society levels can influence stress. Every person reacts differently to stress depending on their individual characteristics.

Stress can be a very individual reaction and can be influenced by genetic disposition, low self esteem or lack of stress prevention measures. In Karim’s example, his individual psychological response of avoiding the initial doctor’s heath advice is responsible for his second attack, which then compounded the situation causing additional stress. If he would have heeded the initial advice he may have avoided the second attack. In Juliet’s example, she comforted her stress with food which then caused her more stress after putting on more weight. This very individual approach to deal with stress actually made it worse. An individual’s character, personality, aptitudes, etc, can influence response to stress. In Steve’s case his own beliefs and habits are contributing significantly towards his stress, especially his perfectionist behavior and he cannot settle for second best which is causing him to work more and for longer hours at office and at home doing DIY himself. To understand how the stress can be influenced beyond the individual level it will be interesting to look at the contribution from the people around them.

Here we focus on the family, or kin, of the individual. The family can affect the individual’s socialization, behavior, values, and outlooks that are learned in the family setting. Margery’s husband’s death is very stressful for her. On social occasions she resorts to alcohol, which is a habit picked up from her husband, which causes her further stress. One of the most common factors of stress, besides financial worry and problems in the workplace, are family difficulties. Steve finds it difficult to balance his working and family life. He finds himself tied up with the DIY work he is doing since they moved into the house and his daily responsibility to drop children to school before work which leaves him feeling irritable even before starting work and he also stays late to finish his work. Although the family is a big influencing factor for Steve’s stress there are also issues at the work place for all employees and his relationship with his boss is contributing into it, this leads us to look at the broader level of locality.

Work related stress is the most common type of stress. The quality of the interpersonal relationships determines whether they help or hinder our ability to cope, which is clearly seen in Karim and Steve’s stories and describes the extent to which social support can influence our response to stress and the resulting impact to our health. Negative relations can be a source of stress. The development of good interpersonal relationships is important for making social support effective. This is very clear in Steve’s relationship with his boss, who has never helped or offered any advice, making working life harder for Steve. In Jean’s case, inadequate housing and the neighborhood were the major reasons for her stressful life and the ill health of all her family. These examples indicate patterns of social networks, peer groups and other local influences towards stress. Beyond this, one might look to construction of stress factors that deal with the culture of a particular society – its values, orientations and how these are communicated (the role of the mass media, education system, and so on).

Some influences of stress look to society for the causes and conditions, for example how the...
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