Strategies for Dealing with and Coping with Stress

Cultural Adaptation Stages Strategies

When you find yourself saying the following (or close to it), you might want to...

  • "How quaint:"
    • Take pictures, ask questions.
  • "It's not like home."
    • Maintain perspective, evaluate expectations.
  • "It's starting to make sense."
    • Keep an open mind, distance yourself.
  • "Hey, I like it here."
    • Learn from your experience.

Coping with Stress

Pre-departure
Imagine what it will be like to live in the culture. Find out as much as you can about Spain (history, culture, people, language). Anticipate what might feel different or uncomfortable. Think about ways you have already used when dealing with stresses at home and whether those will be possible in this new setting.

If you are female, think specifically about the role of women in this culture, your feelings about this, and begin to develop your own coping strategies. If you are gay, lesbian or bi, think about gender roles in the US and how what you know about Spain, for example the role of Catholicism, might affect gender roles.

  • On-site tactics
    • Prevention:
      • Good physical condition
      • Nutrition, exercise, rest, relaxation.
      • Use natural regulators, avoid pills, if possible.
      • Avoid CATS (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar).
    • Be proactive:
      • Use the existing support systems of the program (friends, the group, program leader and staff).
      • Positive Mental Attitude.
      • Develop stress reduction habits. Practice on the little stresses and make as many daily decisions as possible.
      • Remember what has worked for you in the past. You cannot expect yourself to be someone you're not. For example, if being in crowds in the US makes you uneasy, why would it be any different in Spain?
      • Practice your skills (anger management, assertiveness, to do list).
      • Sense of Humor.
    • Ways of Coping:
      • If something occurs that makes you feel uncomfortable or if you begin dealing with unresolved issues:
        • Go to a place that feels safe to you.
        • Know that anything you are feeling is OK, being in a new setting can bring issues to the surface; this is normal.
        • Find a comfortable way to share your feelings. Keeping your feelings inside will not make them go away. (You are strongly encouraged to talk to the program leaders. If needed, we are able to provide additional on-site resources.)
        • Find a way to take care of yourself (naps, music, writing, walks, etc.).
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