Discrimination and stress go hand in hand and immigrants are that segment of the population more likely to experience higher average stress levels.
A multidisciplinary approach is needed to understand fear. Psychologists, neurologists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and biologists have theorized about fear for centuries, yet nowadays fear is a layman’s issue. Moreover, fear is the newly immigrant’s angst.
Fear is the strongest emotion, shared across the animal kingdom but fundamentally human. It is a primary reaction, somewhat instinctual, stemming from a flight and fight response and characterized by overwhelming feelings when confronted with a threat, real or imaginary. In lay terms: if you see a rattle snake in your living room, your fight and flight response gets activated. A basic instinct and every animal’s response to a real threat; neurons fire and chemicals acutely flourish preparing your body to survive. When you find a roach in the kitchen and you frantically jump on a chair hysterically screaming, the same bodily elements discharge, even though there is no actual danger. Fear is a neurobiological reaction to a real threat. Anxiety is a psychological response to an imaginary or symbolic danger. Both trigger the fight and flight reaction, also called “acute stress response.”
The fiercest manifestation of fear is terror and its neurotic expression anxiety. A systematic fear is a phobia, with or without the obsessive component. Fear can be conceptualized as a survival mechanism, a general adaptation syndrome, a learning experience, or an unresolved unconscious conflict. An individual or an archetypical phenomenon.
Most of all, fear is one of the most significant causes of stress. And, fear, fight and flight, stress, and anxiety can be considered interchangeable concepts since they all relate to vast symptomatologies, ranging from acute physical conditions, such as tachycardia, difficulty breathing, and suffocation to chronic illnesses like diabetes, ulcers, migraines, generalized pain, and many others. From a psychological standpoint, the most common symptoms of stress include nervousness, depression, insomnia, intrusive, anticipatory or dysfunctional thoughts, panic attacks, aloofness, excessive worry, obsessions, and even paranoia.
It is an unarguable multidisciplinary fact: Stress affects our overall health. The acute overflow of chemicals during the fight and flight response can easily become a chronic affliction if the perception of danger does not go away. Ruminant thoughts about the threatening situation can also trigger the very same stressful reaction. Furthermore, stress can make preexisting health conditions worse, either because of negative changes in the body or bad habits people develop to cope with it.
Discrimination and stress go hand in hand and immigrants are that segment of the population more likely to experience higher average stress levels as they live in constant fear, in a state of heightened vigilance, forging physical and mental deterioration.
Fear of Trump we can call it; there is a rattle snake in the oval room. The threat is real, the fear is valid. Fear of his rhetoric of terror, his disturbing entourage, and his policies in the Rue Morgue. The inner ring of their orbit of fear is no more an American dream than it is a relentless and ruminant threatening alertness. It rattles a vociferous depreciation of immigrants annulling their present, blaming them for their past, and doubting their future. What an incommensurable source of stress it is to be confronted with a threaded identity and a future that no longer is!
Immigrants might resist but their stress makes white cells waive a white flag because it wanes their immunological system. From the psychological standpoint, stress weakens coping mechanisms and dampens your spirit, making people more vulnerable to resource to unhealthy strategies, such as substance abuse or anger, allowing immediate gratification and impulsivity to take over. From a sociological stance its creates a state of chaos, a stressed out nation. Intimidate, divide, weaken, and produce anxiety, then rule.
In the latest yearly “Stress in America” survey, The American Psychological Association reported a statistically significant increase in stress for the first time since 2007, with people citing politics as a serious stressor in their lives. By the beginning of 2017, two-thirds of the population, predominantly Muslims, immigrants, and victims of sexual trauma reported the future of the nation is causing them stress; any scrupulous analysis would find that fear justified.
Despite myriad circumstances, the fear-mongering, unpredictable, and volatile Imp of the Perverse has brought about a multiple array of stressors. Fear is massively pre-constructed on a foundation made of discourses about illegitimacy, inappropriateness, and abrogation of immigrants. A xenophobic narrative operates not only vertically but horizontally intercepting immigrants in such ways, they cannot get away. Because of political propaganda or bystanders enamored with the racist verbiage, replicating prejudices and stereotypes, condemning and harassing, availed by the sense of entailment demagogy promotes, immigrants simply become afraid, anxious, and stressed out. They feel as beaconed scapegoats, with an eroded self-esteem, worried, disempowered, and hopelessness.
Stress affects one’s relationship with oneself and also relationships with others. As a boycott to performance, stress interferes with one’s most foundational functions, from eating to sleeping, from thinking to feeling. There are countless stories about immigrants who rather interrupt their basic activities than face a potential danger. They frightfully ramble – oppressed and quarantined- somewhere between a compelling need to live their life and fear of an unpredictable universe of adverse possibilities.
The flame of fear urgently prompts immigrants to avoid burnout. Information becomes the key to empowerment, seeking to counteract feelings of insecurity and fear of humiliation. Separate fear from anxiety: identity and avoid the real danger, challenge negative ruminant thoughts and replace them with more encouraging ones. Redefining self-talks helps rational thoughts overpower dysfunctional and catastrophic patterns of thinking, ranging from superstition to compulsive tendencies or ritualistic behaviors, unhealthily designed to avoid discomfort and release anxiety. Emotional support is a must and empathy a healing balm. Stress relieving techniques – any would do — and avoid quick fixes, which could elicit unhealthy behaviors and negative consequences. Reinforce your sense of identity, by means of self-reflection and determination, affirming self-motivation. Run away from aloofness and seek camaraderie and affection. Take care of your body, after all it is the conditio sin equa non for our psyche to operate. Throw fear out the window and welcome educated cautiousness instead. And, confront humiliating plots with a valid genealogy of who you really are. Only you hold a valid answer to the question “who am I?”
Originally published at medium.com