Anxiety of emigrants: advice and recommendations

Emigrating to another country is one of the experiences that can change lives in a more radical way, especially if the destination is a region where a culture very different from ours predominates.

It’s not just about going to a place where the support capacity of friends and family has been drastically reduced; moreover, in many cases it is necessary to adapt to another way of life, even to see life. Realize that for years we have taken for granted that there are many things that can rock our world and put us in a situation where we feel vulnerable.

This is why in psychology we often speak of the anxiety of the emigrantA phenomenon capable of emotionally eroding those who decide to move on with their lives in places far removed from almost everything they know and perceive to be familiar. In this article, we will see what it is.

    What is emigrant anxiety?

    Anxiety is a psychological and physiological phenomenon based on the activation of the nervous system. and going on alert, which usually occurs in almost everyone; for example, when we speak in front of a large audience, when we feel that an examination is approaching, when we feel that we are in danger or that we are exposed to certain risks, etc.

    This implies that this in itself is not a negative thing, as it helps us adapt to the challenges that life poses to us and give them the importance they deserve.

    however, sometimes anxiety makes us live so badly and for so long that it turns into a problem. This is related to the fact that some people develop problematic behaviors in trying to cope with the discomfort caused by the anxiety state, which reinforces the problem; for example, the onset of addictions often emerges as a method of feeling instant relief and stopping suffering from something that produces anxiety or stress, but in turn, in the medium and long term, nurtures the onset constant vigilance and irritability.

    Emigrating can even expose people who do so to a high level of anxiety, because practically overnight, when they move to a new country, they have many fronts to deal with.

    They may not have a good command of the language and without it they can hardly move around the city; or maybe they just can’t find a rental agreement; or they may even have to fear for their integrity because of racist attacks, in some cases. And, of course, the feeling of loneliness also abounds in a society that is partly seen as something strange, foreign to itself.

    This combination of multiple “fire extinguishers” creates an emergency situation in which the simple task of deciding which problem to deal with first already seems daunting.

      What to do?

      Here are some tips to best manage the situation. You can apply them to your case if you have emigrated and believe that this has led you to develop a constantly high level of anxiety.

      1. Define your priorities

      First of all, take the time to just put your ideas in order to adapt to the lifestyle you want in this new country. without fear of believing that it is wasting your time.

      It will help you not to make mistakes and improve your chances of prospering both materially and psychologically in this new place. In case you have a lot of doubts about which way to go, establish two or three possible courses of action in parallel, so that even if one fails, you have the other ready.

      2. Structure your daily life

      Once you’ve completed the previous step, it’s time to optimize your time management; it will keep you from feeling out of control over your life. You need to make a schedule and physically put it in a place that you see frequently, in order to memorize it and commit to it.

      3. Accept some level of discomfort

      Don’t feel bad about feeling stress or anxiety, it’s not a failure. You also don’t try to ‘erase’ this feeling from your consciousness., Because it will give you more strength. Just assume that you can’t control everything that goes through your mind, and instead of trying not to think about it, focus on those aspects of reality that you find stimulating or enjoyable.

      4. In case of major problems, go to the psychologist

      If you think nothing is working, remember that no matter how much you have moved to another country, the Internet still exists; on the network, it is possible to count on the services of psychologists, Since many of us offer online video calling sessions.

      Are you looking for psychological support?

      If you would like to benefit from professional support to deal with migratory anxiety or any other form of psychological discomfort, please contact me. I am a psychologist specializing in the cognitive-behavioral intervention model, one of the most effective in treating emotional disorders, and I assist both in person in Madrid and through online video calls. To see my contact details or more information about my work, visit this page.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Achotegui, J. (2002). Depression among immigrants from an intercultural perspective. Barcelona: May.
      • Achotegui, J. (2014). Ulysses Syndrome: The chronic and multiple stress immigrant syndrome. Vertex, 16 (60): pages 105 to 113.
      • Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. 13 (4): 413-21.
      • Sylvers, P .; Lilienfeld, SO; LaPrairie, JL (2011). Differences between trait fear and trait anxiety: implications for psychopathology. Journal of clinical psychology. 31 (1): pages 122 to 137.

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