Man looking at his reflection in mirrorOne of the things that most humans strive for is a sense of belonging. We all just want to fit in, to be a part of something. A sense of belonging is essential for our survival. That’s why culture and social groups play such a huge role in the world we live in.

Every culture has a set of cultural expectations or rules to abide by. Or you may have grown up on one country or area with its own culture, but your parents immigrated from another country with a very different approach, so you find yourself trying to fit into two cultures and not quite finding your way in either.

An expectation might be set to attend a certain college, obtain a specific degree, or follow a certain career path. Another expectation may involve finding a partner, getting engaged, getting married, then having children.

But what happens if the cultural expectations you’re supposed to follow aren’t matching up to the life you imagined for yourself? Or the expectations are conflicting and leaving you stuck in the middle? You’re starting to feel the added pressure, stress, and anxiety of it all.

Here’s how to cope when strict cultural expectations mingle with depression.

Admit Your Feelings

Two woman sitting in window seat with mugs talkingThere may be a disconnect between the cultural expectations that are set out for you versus your own personal ambitions you have for yourself. This can cause internal conflict and bring on more negative feelings.

One of the best things you can do to cope with how you’re feeling is to first admit what you’re feeling to yourself instead of suppressing it. The longer you go without acknowledging your feelings, the worse your depression will be in the long run.

Something that can help you keep track of your thoughts, emotions, and feelings is by starting a journal. A journal is also a great tool to look back on later to figure out what may be causing you added stress and anxiety.

Lean On Your Support System

Lean on your support system through the good times and the hard times. Your loved ones should be able to provide an open and safe space for you to speak your mind without worry and free of judgement.

Conversations about culture may be difficult, but there’s a good chance your family members may have experienced similar feelings themselves. You won’t know unless you bring up the topic.

Practice Self-Care

Person holding spoon in bowl of cereal and berriesPracticing self-care may be easier said than done, but it is important. Self-care is often dismissed when signs of anxiety, stress, or depression are present, but it’s one of the most important things that should be considered.

Make sure you’re taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. Fuel your body properly during the day. Prioritize getting enough sleep each night. Stick to a schedule or a routine. Move your body for at least 30 minutes each day. Find time for yourself to rest, relax, and recover.

Self-care is putting yourself and your wants and needs first. It’s making sure that you’re okay before you try to meet the expectations and needs of others. You can’t expect to fill up someone else’s cup if yours is completely empty, right?

Set Boundaries

Your life is exactly that: yours. Setting boundaries is crucial in meeting the wants and needs that you have set for yourself.

You may have a different idea of what you want for your life, and that’s okay! If certain cultural expectations are getting in the way of you and your happiness, it may be time to set some boundaries to protect yourself and your overall health and wellness.

Next Steps

You are in full control of your own life despite what your cultural expectation may have led you to believe. It can be hard to find a balance between cultural expectations and the expectations you have set for yourself.

If you’re struggling with signs and symptoms of depression, you’re not alone. Finding a balance can be difficult to navigate, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Reach out to me today to set up a consultation.

Click here to learn more about depression therapy services in Delray Beach, FL and Sandy Springs, GA.