Mental Health for women in the Diaspora

1) What do we mean by Diaspora

 

Here we mean people who are living outside of their native home countries and in this discussion we are mainly focussing on those who’ve had to move away because of instability in that country, although all are welcome because we might touch on something that you can relate to, or things you can say to help a friend out.

 

2) Anxiety

 

Generally stress and anxiety manifest in the form of feelings of instability and unsettlement such as irritability, tension and worry

 

Physical symptoms: Headaches, insomnia, stomach pains

 

Extreme cases: Panic attacks, Anxiety Attacks, Heart disease, High Blood Pressure

 

Low to moderate stress levels are okay, sometimes to motivate us to finish work, so it’s okay if you sometimes feel stress similar to the kind you feel when you’re pressured to finish something, the kind of stress that comes with wanting to do more as an activist, a hkund of motivational stress that is manageable, and if you fell edgy from time to time only if it doesn’t become crippling or overwhelming.

 

These issues often harm us all in different ways and because of how different people are, there are often different reactions, I’m hoping we can share insight from each other and help each other grow.

 

What ways do you often deal with anxiety?

 

What bad coping mechanisms are you aware of?

 

Ways to deal with the stress :

  • Stay informed, but know your limits. Consider how much news you take in and how that information is affecting you. If you are preoccupied by national events and it is interfering with your daily life, this may be a sign to cut back on your news intake and limit social media discussions. For example, some people may find it helpful to schedule a short block of time in the morning and one in the evening to catch up on news without checking for every new update during the day. During “digital breaks,” take time to focus on something enjoyable, such as a hobby, exercising, or spending time with family and friends.
  • Find commonalities with others. We come into contact with people every day whose beliefs differ from our own. If the topic of political differences arises, avoid heated discussions and try to identify commonalities within your different views. Sometimes different views can come from a similar underlying principle. Be open to hearing the other person’s story, and maybe even validate how they are feeling. When we frame our thinking this way, it can be easier to tolerate or understand people with different views and even, perhaps, work together toward a common goal. If you find it difficult to discuss political issues in a calm and constructive manner, it may be best to disengage from the conversation.
  • Find meaningful ways to get involved in your community. Identify issues that are important to you, and research organizations that work on those issues. Contact them and see how you can join their efforts. You could also consider getting involved in local politics, where it can be possible to see the direct impact of your efforts. Attend a city council meeting or a town hall meeting to listen to and share your ideas with elected officials. Taking active steps to address your concerns can lessen feelings of stress.
  • Seek solace. Faith-based organizations and other community organizations can provide vital emotional and spiritual support during stressful times. Engaging in soothing activities, such as meditation, progressive relaxation or mindfulness, can also help you connect to the present moment and find some peace.
  • Take care of yourself. Because stress can have a physical and emotional impact on your overall health, find activities you enjoy to help you recharge and reduce your stress, such as exercising, listening to your favourite music, or spending time with close family and friends. It’s important to prioritize getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and avoiding ineffective coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substances use.
  • If stress starts interfering with daily routine for an extended period of time, or if you are unable to manage stress on your own, it might be time to see a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional. Psychologists are trained to understand the connection between the mind and body, and can help you to identify problem areas and develop an action plan for changing them.

3) Feelings of guilt and shame that may arise from feeling less connected

 

This mainly refers to the feeling of not feeling enough of your cultural domain.

Have you felt any of these feelings?

 

Have you had people say things that imply this of you? How did you react?

  • This can be because you’ve had to make certain changes in order to adapt [e.g. speaking more in English rather than in your native tongue] or dietary changes because certain thing just aren’t as readily available.
  • Sometimes its because you moved during formative years, perhaps it was your first time moving out of your family home, so it’s an initial step into independence, so you’ve had to formulate your identity outside the cover of your native home, it is reasonable for you to pick up habits, accents and phrases from other cultural groups around you
  • After living abroad for a while, you will have discussed with different people, adopted different habits, your opinions may have changed and you see your country and your past life with fresh new eyes and from an external point of view. You will start to follow closely the actuality in your new country and miss some news about your native country; your preoccupations are being different from your friends and family and feel sometimes too disconnected from their lives and your country. Sometimes I do not speak my mother tongue for one week or more and cannot even find my words when I speak with my relatives from my home country. You will note that you do not speak your mother tongue in the same way and start to integrate some words used in the other language you practice. All this means that you are very well integrated in your new country.
  • It is important to acknowledge that it is not uncommon.

Can you think of ways in which this disconnection might arise…instances when people have pointed out that you’re different because you don’t act or speak in an “ideally indigenous” way?

 

Do you sometimes find yourself in that space of not feeling like you really belong?

 

How to deal with this?

  • Accepting that it is normal to change in certain ways as you grow and your surrounding environment plays a huge role in that.
  • Accepting that you are not any “less” a member of your group simply because you do not act in a way that someone wants you to act, society is too large and too diverse for everyone to act the same

 

4) Dealing with high expectations

 

Black tax and entitlement applies more to those who have dependants and those who are expected to later provide for their families

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