In college life, students face various stressors, including changes in social activities, sleep patterns, conflicts with peers, and financial difficulties. The thoughts about the future career and a lack of resources can be stressful, leading to psychological and physical complications. Namely, the development of stress-related health problems is closely associated with stress perception: those who see it as a challenge are likely to be enthusiastic about overcoming it. On the contrary, there is a tendency to develop depression and anxiety in case stress is perceived as a threat. The key health problems include emotional eating, social isolation, and an increased risk of high blood pressure. According to Dexter, Huff, Rudecki, and Abraham (2018), three out of ten college students are overweight or obese, which is a result of eating as a way to handle stress. Relationships with peers and parents are another area that is often stressful for students due to poor communication, violence, harassment, and bullying.
On a larger scale, the populations all over the world experience similar stressful situations, such as discrimination, economic problems, poor relationships, and so on. For example, Persike and Seiffge-Krenke (2016) explored adolescents from 18 nations and found that their relationships with parents are challenging. More to the point, regional and cultural differences were identified based on self-reports that were provided by the study participants. Compared to Southern European countries, adolescents from Western and Eastern European countries showed lower stress levels (Persike et al., 2016). The students from Western countries reported that they face greater stress from their relationships with parents than peers, while females’ stress levels were higher than those of males. As for cultural differences, the adolescents from the US were found to be more aware of the methods to cope with stress, which was attributed to such values as autonomy and independence. Since parents in Easter Europe are less likely to accept their children’s independence, it causes tension.
Cultural differences in stress perception significantly affect mental and physical health outcomes. Such collectivistic ethnicities as Latin Americans and African Americans value family relationships that help them in mitigating stress (Shavitt et al., 2016). Asian culture prioritizes the suppression of emotions in public, which leads to considering emotion sharing as the violation of norms. It leads to numerous mental problems, including depression and anxiety. A lack of social support was regarded as a critical driver of stress increase among Hispanics and Asian Americans. The study by Shavitt et al. (2016) also shows that African Americans have higher stress rates compared to Whites and Mexican Americans. Whites were found to have fewer physical health problems in relation to African Americans and Latin groups. In addition to the distinction between collectivistic and individualistic features, the mentioned differences are caused by average income and social position of various ethnicities, which determine their access to health care services.
Thus, there is a direct correlation between one’s rate of perceived stress and his or her mental and physical health. Among the key factors that identify perceived stress across the cultures, there is social support, self-identification, social and financial problems, and access to health care. A similar trend is that regardless of cultural background, stress increases the risk of developing a range of diseases. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that it is important to communicate the role of stress coping strategies across cultural boundaries to prevent many complications.
- Dexter, L. R., Huff, K., Rudecki, M., & Abraham, S. (2018). College students’ stress coping behaviors and perception of stress-effects holistically. International Journal of Studies in Nursing, 3(2), 1-6.
- Persike, M., & Seiffge-Krenke, I. (2016). Stress with parents and peers: How adolescents from 18 nations cope with relationship stress. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 29(1), 38-59.
- Shavitt, S., Cho, Y. I., Johnson, T. P., Jiang, D., Holbrook, A., & Stavrakantonaki, M. (2016). Culture moderates the relation between perceived stress, social support, and mental and physical health. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 47(7), 956-980.