How Immigrants Can Cope with Anxiety During Political Turmoil
Posted by Soribel Martinez, LCSW
There’s no question that the United States is experiencing a state of political turmoil like it hasn’t seen in decades. Debates are raging about many topics. Immigration is often chief among these.
If you are an immigrant, whether documented or not, you may well be experiencing increased anxiety during these times. Perhaps you follow the news anxiously for updates on the border wall, the status of asylum seekers, or hate crimes against members of your cultural group and others.
You’re fearful about what you may see and worry about what’s already happened. With a new administration in power, you’re hopeful. But you know that this doesn’t mean that hate crimes will stop.
It’s important to find a way to cope with your anxiety during this time.
Recognize Signs of Anxiety
Many people who live with anxiety aren’t entirely aware that it’s what is causing their feelings of distress. This is because the body and brain are so closely connected.
Anxiety often comes out as physical symptoms. You may feel short of breath or like your heart is racing. Often people will have an upset stomach, diarrhea, or nausea because of the influence of stress hormones on the digestive system.
Tiredness and fatigue can accompany anxiety. Likewise, sore muscles, aches, and pains can result from the tension that anxiety causes in your body. Anxiety can also cause you to feel irritable. You may struggle with insomnia and wake up tired every morning.
Try to pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. If you find that you regularly experience some of these symptoms, it’s time to put anxiety management skills into practice.
No matter what external political causes are creating your anxiety, you can address your symptoms in the same way.
Deep breathing and physical exercise are very effective ways to reduce your anxiety. It’s also important to make sure you’re sleeping well. Avoiding alcohol, drugs, and unhealthy food can also help with your anxiety.
Build Community Support
No matter who you are, it’s important to have community support. You need other people you can talk with when you’re feeling anxious or stressed out.
Reach out to friends and fellow immigrants to establish connections and seek emotional support. Check in on them and on your family members to make sure they know you’re thinking of them. These types of relationships can help you combat anxiety and feel more calm.
It is important to avoid spending too much time watching or reading the news, because that can increase your anxiety. But it’s also important to stay informed.
Stay on top of political developments as they occur. Learn about what various policy changes could mean for you or your loved ones. Identify sources of assistance and guidance should you need them. It’s good to be prepared, but don’t panic.
Take Steps to Ensure Your Safety
Unfortunately, the current political division and turmoil has led to race-related hate crimes. It’s important to be aware of factors in your life that could lead to physical danger or discrimination.
Only you know what your individual situation is like. If you suspect you may encounter physical threats or otherwise, it’s important to think through your options ahead of time.
Join Advocacy Groups
There is power in joining forces with like-minded people. There are many advocacy groups you can join or participate in to build solidarity and stay informed. Knowing that you’re not dealing with your anxiety and uncertainty on your own can make a big difference.
No matter where you’ve come from, you deserve the opportunity to live a life free from fear and uncertainty. If you are struggling with anxiety and the political upheaval in this country, it’s important to address it. Counseling is an important option to consider. I encourage you to contact my office to learn more.
If you are considering finding a therapist for your child, we have created a mini guide that shares with you 5 tips on how to select the best therapist for you and your family. You can click here to get your FREE copy:
You can also give us a call at 203.800.9778
Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy