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Immigration in the midst of a pandemic: how to stay optimistic amid trials

So 2020 is over. For someone who fully felt the bitterness of illness and loss, it was difficult and even tragic, for someone, perhaps, not so scary and even happy in some way, but for everyone, without exception, he was filled with new, unusual challenges. These trials became especially difficult for those who recently moved to a new country and have not yet fully coped with the stress and difficulties caused by immigration. The imposition of one stress on another certainly does not add optimism, and makes the process of adapting to a new country even more difficult.

Photo: Shutterstock

We will try to give some simple psychological advice that will help you cope with stress and maintain the ability to enjoy life even in new, extreme conditions.

1. First, in the current situation, it is important to overestimate the significance of your success. Do not equate your American accomplishments with what you were able to achieve at home. Sometimes it's important to tell yourself that another country is like another planet, where time and energy circulate in a slightly different way, and any American success is worth a dozen of your successes in Russia or any other post-Soviet country. In a word, it is useful to build a new scale for assessing achievements and to increase in your eyes the significance of what was done in immigration compared to your previous life. Achievements made in a foreign country in the extreme conditions of a pandemic can at all be considered real feats.

In addition, it is important to remember that with our lives, no matter how pathetic it may sound, we create history - if not global, then certainly our own. It is unique and cannot be compared with any other. At the level of this personal story, you already have unique milestones. Could you, say, a few years ago imagine that you could live in another country and communicate with its inhabitants in their language, discovering more and more of its features every day? Immigration is a unique opportunity every day in small steps to achieve what seemed impossible yesterday, thereby creating unique precedents and by personal example revealing the world of immigration to others, honestly showing its good and bad sides. Each such step, each new discovery and even each failure is an important element of your personal history, which in no case should be discounted.

Moreover, it is from such personal stories that the general history of the Russian emigration is formed. Like any other story, it cannot be cloudless, but that does not make it less valuable or less inspiring. The famous Chelyabinsk meteorite of 2013 also did not cause any global consequences, but became a unique fact, forever inscribed in history. Trust that your life and your small victories are no less unique.

On the subject: Coronavirus and psychosomatics: why stress and panic make us vulnerable to infections

2. Learn to “let go” of the uncontrollable. Do not forget that our "invalidity" is often a direct consequence of the difference in social status, that is, the lack of a green card, citizenship, American education, etc. Obtaining this status requires at least several years, and it is important to remember that it is not in your power to speed up bureaucratic processes, influence the regulations for the work of state institutions under quarantine conditions, or ensure affordable vaccination. Delaying obtaining the necessary documents or making important decisions can be a real nightmare for people who are used to relying only on their own strength and control everything that happens in their lives. But it’s also good practice in accepting the inevitable. Reducing the possibility of control, accordingly, reduces personal responsibility, which makes it possible to finally relax with a clear conscience and not cheat yourself for not doing something.

3. Don't ask too much of yourself even in things that depend on you. The pandemic and the inconvenience and uncertainty it causes is stress that burns our energy even when we are not aware of it. It is important to take this factor for granted and make a discount on it. For example, if you tend to set strict "disciplining" deadlines for yourself that are not related to work deadlines (for example, norms for learning a foreign language per day, and so on), during this period you can and even need to give yourself a break. If you do not avoid communicating with the locals, the language barrier will in any case be removed over time. Many people told me that they could not force themselves to go to English courses by any means, but then they found an interesting job and like-minded people, and felt such a strong need to communicate with other professionals in their field that they forgot which language they spoke. Important business and interesting people can be a great incentive to improve your language skills. In general, during a crisis, it is especially important to stimulate yourself from the positive side, while trying to force yourself to do something only increases the already serious stress.

4. Try to fragment your life, separating each of its areas from others. The peculiarities of the country you came to, emigrant difficulties, an objective difference in mentality, chaos and difficulties caused by the pandemic, loss of social status, your personal nostalgia, specific people who offended you, and so on - these are all different things and should not be mix them together. They do not characterize either you or the country as a whole, and at the moment are just a coincidence.

On the subject: The pandemic has affected people's psychological health: the effects of isolation

5. Surround yourself with friendly friendsand try to stay away from preachers. Unfortunately, some immigrants from the post-Soviet space have retained a completely Soviet habit of giving unsolicited advice and asserting themselves at the expense of others. Such people boast of their "success", condescendingly lecture "losers" and sometimes teach them "how to love their homeland," even if in this case it is a foreign "homeland." You shouldn't let such people influence your life and self-esteem.

And most importantly, how advises famous psychologist Olga Podolskaya, it is important to focus on the good, pamper your body and soul with small pleasures and allow yourself to slow down to see the magic of the world around us. Immigration is a daily encounter with newness, which in itself is already a small miracle if we have the courage to open up to this newness.

Happy 2021!

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