"Stress" is an Anglo-Saxon word that does not have a precise translation in the Spanish language. Perhaps "distress" might serve as a reasonable approximation.

We Latin Americans who arrived to stay in the land of Uncle Sam confront a series of factors that generate this evil that afflicts modern societies but that in our countries fundamentally affects those who suffer from “love sickness”. Accustomed to our preferences and customs, we began the difficult route that leads to the "American Dream".

Surrounded by uncertainty, fears and illusions, we find that there are too many things here that are foreign to us: language, legal regulations, addresses, food and, especially, the reverential cult for work. In such a way that the "way of the cross" of our adaptation to the environment goes through various stress-generating stages.

Ignorance of the English language is the first blocking stone that prevents the newcomer from communicating fluently with his peers and from misunderstanding everything from traffic signs to the characteristics of the products he buys in the supermarket.

Another important source that generates the "evil of our days" is the problem of "papers". Once the beneficiary has obtained the original entry visa to the country, he must adapt his work and citizen conduct to the standards that will allow him to obtain the long-awaited “green card”. Depending on his "status" our immigrant must, or generate certain sources of work, or request labor certification, or wait with his eyes fixed on the sky -and in the mailbox- the approval of his asylum.

And so, without time for regrets, our countryman must begin to struggle in an environment fraught with competition and severe labor regulations. If he wants to legally work as a plumber, electrician, foreman, or even an interior designer, he must obtain a license from the state; take the respective courses and, after paying the fees and registration, access the "stressful" approval exam.

But, not to mention taxes, social security, health and property insurance, or the "drivers license" let's now examine aspects related to the family plan of our prototype since, with all certainty, he will be accompanied by a wife and children. And it is that, without a doubt, the economic weight of the family burden is usually one of the greatest causes of stress.

When the father of the family contrasts his income with the needs of the home and observes that his hard work effort is not enough to satisfy the primary requirements, his mind will strive to find solutions to the problem. Your cardiovascular and immune systems, your endocrine glands, and the regions of the brain that deal with memory and emotions will begin to work together. Your adrenaline secretion will increase along with your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. If in the end his mind manages to sublimate the problem that caused the anguish, the organism will be able to return to its normal position. Otherwise, chronic stress will find forms of expression in various diseases as a result of the individual's inability to meet the demands of the outside world and to resist the pressures that overload their nervous system and weaken their immune system.

Cases of chronic pathologies such as migraines, acne, ulcers of the digestive system and respiratory asthma are often attributable to stress, as are serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Now, since it is not just a question of identifying the causes of evil but rather of looking for solutions that allow it to be controlled, we are going to present a decalogue of norms to mitigate the effects of stress and to develop factors of social and labor productivity.

First: Do at least 30 minutes a day of exercises that make you sweat so that your pores open and breathe. Remember that famous phrase from the Latin poet Juvenal: “Mens sana in Corpore Sano”, that is, “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.

Second: Eat and drink healthy. Avoid carbohydrates and fats in general. Don't abuse your liver's purifying ability by bottling it with high-alcohol or caffeinated beverages.

Third: Sleep well. Although one of the most common expressions of stress is insomnia, try to sleep at least 6 hours a day so that the body is able to face the rigors of life the next day. Use sleeping pills if necessary.

Fourth: Learn to breathe with the diaphragm, deeply, so that your body -especially your brain- is sufficiently oxygenated. Well-distributed oxygen makes all the cells of the body active and ready to effectively carry out their corresponding functions.

Fifth: Learn to meditate so that you can find yourself and can identify the true causes of stress. Through meditation, the necessary mental stability is acquired to change moments of anguish for moments of happiness and inner peace. If we practice meditation regularly, we will eventually achieve what is known as liberation or nirvana in Sanskrit. From then on, for the rest of our lives, we will experience peace and happiness.

Sixth: Do not despair. When he feels overwhelmed by problems, repeat to yourself the phrase “Against Depression, Action!” and then compulsively activate yourself emotionally and physically; he begins to vibrate before the harmonious chords of life. He listens to music, sings, goes to the movies and for once buys popcorn and other sudden fattening agents; he walks slowly through the streets and, while he savors a creamy cone ice cream, watches the people go by; admire the silhouette of the moon and give thanks to his God for all the gifts that he can enjoy today. Simple but rewarding things...

Seventh: Speak. Don't shut yourself in if you have a chance to chat with a friend or family member. The mere fact of venting our anguish serves as an outlet for our psychological pressures and, why not? We could even receive timely advice and help from our peers. Introverted people are more likely to somatize their anxieties in the form of illnesses.

Eighth: Do not attack or respond to aggression. Although there are quarrelsome people with whom we must work or with whom we meet frequently, ignore their defiant attitudes and imagine with Dostoyevsky that, like every human being, there must be something good in them too. Try to see that positive part of the individual. Think of the fiesta brava and play the role of the bullfighter, leaving the role of the bull to the other. How unpleasant a bullfight would be if the bullfighter kicked the bull, insulted him and also spit on him. It isn't true?

Ninth: Along with the purification of your mind, also do a general cleaning of your workplace and your home. Throw away all those magazines and newspapers that I once kept because they had "something cool." Send to Good Will Industries anything from old books, nasty keepsakes, used clothing you no longer wear, and old-fashioned or unusable furniture, sporting goods, toys, and other accessories that tend to accumulate over time. negligence or by the mere inertia of life.

Tenth: Be positive but not stubborn. When you feel overwhelmed by a problem, remember the famous prayer of Saint Augustine and recite it in a low voice: Lord, give me the decision to change those things that I can change; the patience to accept the things that I cannot change; and the intelligence to distinguish one thing from another.

It is difficult to find someone in the world who has never suffered from a moment of stress. Stress, when it manifests itself in response to specific external pressures, is beneficial for the individual. Imagine a student who doesn't suffer the anguish of the final exam, a driver who doesn't react violently to avoid an accident or an athlete who doesn't demand the maximum effort from his body to win. Therefore, be aware of the manifestations of their behavior so that you know how to delineate the border between normal and pathological in a timely manner.

And to end this “stressful” article, this quote from the great Bertrand Russell goes: »One of the symptoms that heralds a nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is indispensable.»

by Alfredo González Amaré* –  Economist and Lawyer. Business Broker.

Email: agonzalez@vrcoralgables.com

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