Rest, meditation, diet and exercise: Self-care strategies to reduce emotional and behavioral stress among African-American single parent women at the Franklinton Center at Bricks, Whitakers, North Carolina

by Hawkins, Willie Mae, D.Min., REGENT UNIVERSITY, 2010, 230 pages; 3448628


In this dissertation, the author addressed the question: “What self-care strategies will help African-American single parent women reduce their emotional and behavioral stress?” Thirty-one African-American single parent women, who were divorced, separated, or never-married and whose ages ranged from eighteen to fifty-five, participated in this project. Their levels of education varied greatly, from one participant with no education to some with master's degrees. Their income levels also ranged from no income to over $40,000 per year.

The author identified and explored six categories of stressors that affect the lives of African-American single parent women: being a woman, a single woman, a parent, a single parent, an African-American woman, and an African-American single parent woman, in particular. Rest, meditation, diet and exercise were the self-care methods used to reduce emotional and behavioral stress.

The project was conducted in three phases. The author presented seminars and workshops, including three weeks of monitoring the participants' participation in the self-care strategies. The author also used survey tools such as pre- and post-assessments and gathered written responses through questionnaires. Written documents from journals, testimonies, and direct observation with interviews were conducted. The evaluation of the project was based on the correlations of independent variables (top stressors, Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale test, and the self-care strategies) and measured by dependent variables (age, marital status, education level, and income).

As a result of the project, the author noted that the participants reduced their overall stress levels. The Holmes and Rahe Stress test showed a reduction among all the dependent variables. Although all four self-care methods demonstrated a reduction in stress, rest was the most beneficial, followed by exercise, meditation and diet. Throughout the project, the top five stressors remained the participants' finances, children, family, relating with others and their jobs.

Based on the participants' journals and written testimonies and the author's field observations, participants' emotions and behaviors were altered. At the end of the project, they appeared calmer, demonstrated closeness with each other, and initiated better life choices to improve a sense of well-being.

One of the major contributions for this project was development of a Self-Care Stress Reduction handbook. The author designed the handbook to assist participants in identifying their stressors, understanding health issues facing African-American women, receiving scriptural insights and journaling their process in implementing the four self-care strategies. The handbook can be utilized by churches or other organizations to minister or assist African-American single parent women in reducing their stress and can be used in a group setting or as a self-directed guide.

AdviserJames Flynn
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Black studies; Women's studies; Theology; Clinical psychology; Health education
Publication Number3448628

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