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How to survive the stress of immigration: a personal experience of a psychologist


ForumDaily Woman

My own experience and the experience of a wide circle of my acquaintances about life abroad show that absolutely everyone in varying degrees, in new conditions, has difficulty in adapting.

Фото: Depositphotos

You moved to another country, you intend to live and work in this country, that is, you consciously chose for yourself new conditions of existence. From the point of view of psychology, the adaptation of the individual in a new social and cultural environment includes social and socio-psychological adaptation, the latter, in turn, is carried out at different levels: society, workforce, the immediate social environment, personal adaptation.

In terms of immigration, a person loses significant social ties that have supported him in the past, and this adversely affects his mental health.

The decline in social status, lack of knowledge of the language engender fear and insecurity among immigrants, a sense of their own insignificance and a decrease in self-esteem. Previously acquired skills and professional qualifications become useless or unclaimed in immigration.

Self-esteem falls sharply, a negative attitude towards oneself is formed: “I don’t know anything, I don’t know how, I can’t”.

The feeling of worthlessness and uselessness reduces the intrinsic value of a person. Such a feeling arises in connection with a sharp drop in the standard of living, a change in social status, and the inability to find a place in a new society. On the other hand, objective criteria - a good education, a fairly high social position and a comfortable existence in the past, characteristic of many immigrants, do not allow self-esteem to fall too much.

Under the conditions of adaptation, the unity of the personality is disturbed, the picture of the world and the perception of himself are distorted. When a person breaks his confidence in himself, his ideas about himself change, he loses faith in himself and begins to look for support in a new social community. He becomes noticeably detached, committed only to his “clan”. Such behavior may be a necessary psychological defense against a sense of loss of identity.


Nostalgia is a type of marginal conflict. The word “nostalgia” has two meanings: 1) longing for the homeland, for the home; 2) longing for the past, for the past, for the lost. The absence of a native language and socio-cultural environment, a violation of the established foundations of life lead to mental discomfort, the emergence of a feeling of loss of everything that was previously dear to a person.

If a person realizes that there is no way back, nostalgia is intensifying.

In our life we ​​are attached to many things: to work, people, home, things, memories, old relationships that not only hold us captive, but also prevent the appearance of something new in our life. Often we are held captive by stereotypes that make us discriminate against other people, events, and social phenomena. Some of us have addictions and addictions (computer gambling, card games, lotteries, slot machines, alcohol or drug addiction, etc.), which, at best, narrow the circle of vital interests or damage our loved ones, and at worst, reduce our a life. And often we understand that in order to change something for the better, to preserve your health, your life, to discover something new, you need to part with the old ...

Monkey and coconut

There is a wonderful example from the life of our fellow monkeys. In Africa, these animals are caught in one remarkable way. The coconut hunters first make a small hole, remove the inner contents and put a monkey treat in there. Then the nut is tied with a rope, one end of which is fastened to the trunk of a coconut palm. Hiding somewhere nearby, they are waiting for the monkey to notice a nut and slip a paw into it to get a treat. But as soon as the delicacy is clamped in her fist, she will not be able to pull her paw out of the nut. Here is a monkey and got, because she is unable to part with a delicacy - it is beyond her strength.

Many of us, in terms of immigration and not only, behave the same way as this monkey.

Parting with the past turns into a most difficult test, which not everyone can always withstand.

In some cases, they themselves can part with the old in order to openly accept the new, in others - their friends, relatives or professionals - psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts should come to the rescue.

Coping with stress

Now you are not a tourist, but a resident, and this honorable mission leads to a change of lifestyle, a change of language, climatic conditions, and the biggest one is a change of social circle or loss of it.

In order for your adaptation to be most successful, you need to study in advance:

  • Find out the features of the work of medical institutions, call an ambulance;
  • If you have children, familiarize yourself in advance with educational opportunities;
  • Visit public places more: restaurants, exhibitions, shopping centers;
  • Communicate more with locals;
  • Preliminary study of local traditions and mentality;
  • Do not give up the usual "rituals".

My family and I experienced these feelings quite strongly, replacing a place of residence from a noisy metropolis Moscow a few years ago to a quiet (even very) small city in Florida. Of course, after some time a new social circle begins to form, although it is much more difficult than meeting in the sandbox at preschool age.

One of the important features of adaptation is mentality. Of course, there are features specific to the population of a particular country, and even an area. But this is not the rule for all residents, especially for such a multinational country as the United States. If you search well, you can find European football fans, beer lovers or dumplings. On the Internet, you will find groups in your city, where people speak the language you are familiar with, celebrate national holidays with you, and the like. The danger here is not getting hooked on these groups.

As a rule, elders have long gone through the most difficult stage of adaptation and, fluent in English, have a wide range of interests. Your life can turn into waiting for meetings with the group, and there will be no progress, new discoveries for yourself. Take a specific time to communicate with like-minded people, everything else - try to communicate with native speakers (children’s school, teachers on ESL courses, shop assistants). Using elementary phrases in English, you get used to the fact that people understand you !!!! It is very important!!!

Usually, older people adapt adaptation more difficult, many return back to their homeland. I think the main reason is the difficulties of the language. With a poor knowledge of the language, often with a diploma that is not accepted (for example, doctors, lawyers), a person must start everything from scratch - look for a cheap apartment, go to a low-paying job, learn a language and spend years to get back up. But this stage can be completed without serious consequences.

Who can not even worry - these are children. Absolutely I can say this, at least on the experience of my children (at the time of the move one was 8, the second one was 5).

Perception depends on what a person wants to see. Some time ago I read a review of one person from a trip to Los Angeles, so 80% of the article was devoted to the lack of a brush in the toilet, the fixed shower holder and the view of the trash bin from the hotel window (he himself chose cheaper, probably). Well, here, as they say, without comment.

I wish you all good luck !!!

Your consultant in the world of psychology, Dr.Liza

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