By Dr. Noureddine, Associate Program Director for the Nursing Program at the University of the Pacific, Associate Professor at Sacramento State, and founder/director of the SAHA Health Center.
I often talk to my students about the long-term effects of stress with an analogy: if you were to hold a glass of water in your hand for a few minutes, you probably wouldn’t think about it too much. You notice it, but it’s not causing any harm.
However – what if you were asked to hold that glass of water for 2 hours? A day? A month? You would soon be exhausted and in considerable pain.
Stress is the same way. A little bit of stress is natural and healthy in small doses – and it might not bother you at first. But even a small amount of stress will wear you out over time and cause bigger problems if it isn’t addressed or handled.
There are a lot of stressors that members of the Arabic-speaking community experience in Sacramento County and throughout the country – for some it can be trauma from living in (and leaving) a war zone, simply the transition to living in a new country, frustration from not being fluent in English or the varied impacts of systemic racism and discrimination against members of our community.
It is only natural that these constant sources of stress and anxiety take a toll on the health and happiness of our community.
In my role at SAHA Health Center, I have often spoken with patients who were experiencing physical manifestations of their anxiety or stress – such as intense stomach pains, shakiness or headaches – but when they find out that the source of their pain is their brain, they refuse to seek treatment, because of fear that others in the community will find out. They are afraid of being shunned or judged by their community, because they know that many of their friends and neighbors will not understand.
It is crucial that we increase awareness and education around stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions in our community so that people know that these conditions aren’t anyone’s fault, and that they are manageable with the right support and treatment.
Because ultimately, we cannot thrive as a community without supporting the health of community members – whether they are seeking treatment for diabetes or depression; hypertension or anxiety. They’re equally important, and no one should feel ashamed for feeling sick and wanting to improve their health and overall happiness.
Reducing stress and anxiety can take many forms – whether it’s regular exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, opening up to a close friend or family member or seeking support from a doctor – you have the ability to find balance, happiness and wellness.
I encourage everyone to learn more about how they can be healthier by managing stress and supporting psychological wellness, and be supportive if someone you know opens up to you about their own phycological health.
One way you can learn more is to explore the StopStigmaSacramento.org website, and visit the Arabic-speaking community page to find tips on supporting your psychological health and the health of others. If you want to learn about treatments that can help, you can visit the website’s services page, or come to the SAHA Health Center on the 3rd Saturday of the month between 1:00 – 4:00 pm.