Things getting you down lately? So sorry to hear that. Don’t worry; everyone goes through this at some point. Whatever the reason for your gloom, what’s important is that you get over it and learn from this experience.
It’s all part of a process
Coping with language barriers, job rejections, not understanding social cues, lack of immediate support – these and other settlement woes can pile up and start eating away at your confidence. It’s a stage of culture shock newcomers go through – at first, it’s the honeymoon phase where everything is great. You are fascinated by anything and everything around you. At this point, your confidence and motivation are high. Sooner or later, you will start discovering or experiencing things that are not ideal. Things like extreme weather, troubles in finding work or adjusting to the culture may slowly chip away at your rosy outlook and usher in the start of the frustration phase. If this is sustained, your confidence can diminish and depression may set in.
It is important to note that the difference between a successful immigrant and an unsuccessful one often has to deal with getting over frustration and moving on to the phases of adjustment and acceptance.
How to deal:
First off, recognize that feeling low is a natural reaction. It’s ok to be disappointed or frustrated; after all, you’re human. What is bad is to sustain this feeling to the point of affecting your health and self-esteem. Wallowing in self-pity can lead to depression. And as science proves, we are prone to more sickness when we are depressed (How depression hurts your health, Everyday Health). How can you be your best self if you’re sick?
Here are 5 practical things you can do today to stop this negative trend:
Unlearn negative self-talk
Many of us are experts at self-sabotage. If you have the habit of blaming yourself, comparing yourself to others, or blowing things out of proportion (making problems seem bigger than they are), just stop. Negative self-talk is damaging because it fools you into thinking that there is no solution to a bad situation. You will conclude that everything will invariably go wrong because you will always mess it up.
The way to counter this is to harbour positive thoughts to counteract negative self-talk. When you feel negativity start coming on, pause for a minute. Think of a time you felt great about yourself. Think of past successes where you achieved a goal. Slowly replace self-doubt with self-affirmation. This means recognizing your true value. It will take time and discipline but it can be done. Try it!
Talk to a positive person
Who is the most positive person you know? Is it your pastor? A family member or a friend? Give that person a call. Talking to someone about your worries relieves stress and tension. But remember that talking is a two-way street. When the other person offers their view or advice, listen. Learn from their wisdom.
Make a list
List down your goals and aspirations. Putting your desires on paper will help stimulate your mind. Since we are wired for problem-solving, writing your goals down and actually seeing them laid out can help you figure out your next plan of action. If anything, thinking about your goals can lift your spirits up and change your mood.
Do something creative
Are you skilled in carpentry? Build something with your hands. You don’t have to be highly skilled or super artistic. Try sketching, crocheting, or cooking. Redirect your attention to take your mind off from your problems. This is helpful because sometimes, when we look at a situation from a distance we are able to assess things better. It will help you see that perhaps things are not as grim as you think. Also, creating something useful, pretty, or delicious can boost your self-esteem and confidence.
Exercise. Do something active
Yes, it has something to do with raising your levels of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that reduce levels of depression and stress). Even a 30-minute work-out can help elevate your mood. You can also walk, jog, do jumping jacks or crunches.
If you want to take it to the next level, do an activity that helps others. For example, go to a homeless shelter, animal shelter, or a church or school. Help them with simple chores like cleaning, mowing grass, serving food, or moving boxes. You will replace those dark moods with an incredible feeling of achievement.
Remember, all of this is a part of a process. It will pass. Don’t let it defeat you. Try these simple exercises today to start your journey towards your best self.
Sources: The four stages of culture shock, Global Perspectives, Medium.com; Don’t feel bad: Battling low self-esteem as a new immigrant, Margaret Jetelina, Canadian Immigrant; Why endorphins (and exercise make you happy), Kristin Domonell, Daily Burn. All accessed April 12, 2018.
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