How do Filipinos Fight Stress and Nostalgia?

 By: Noriel E. Banes

An over-used line says “No man is an Island.” It may sound cliché but it gives a clear definition of our life as an individual. The inevitable thing is, stress is everywhere located most of the time within the four corners of the work arena. The struggle is real and it is a serious matter that needs an antidote. The fact is, a stress ball will never be enough. As Filipinos, we find ways to combat this serious situation in different forms of activities available within our reach.  A lot of people are struggling in life and ended up depressed, and sad to say, killing themselves. No matter how well off and successful you are in your career, stress or depression excuses no one. Talking about OFWs, we are vulnerable considering the distance from our family and friends. 

I asked some of my friends who have been working here in the U.A.E. for quite some time, on how they experienced stress and their ways to win the war against depression. Here are the answers I gathered that I think are incredibly helpful:

“On my first year as an OFW, I was stressed due to the work environment, the people, different cultures, and the work location itself. I felt depressed as that was not the picture of life and place I dreamt. Moving on, I am good but I can’t say that I never experienced stress anymore but I just always put positivity in everything that happened and will happen in my life.” Says Emma Espinosa Pintor, Accountant in Dubai for 8 years now.

Most of us, if not all, have experienced the same depression and frustration during the first year of being away from home. Aside from making an effort to be positive, Emma mentioned one most important thing she does to fight stress. “I manage to call my parents on weekends. That’s what I do to combat the feeling of loneliness and cut out the stress I feel.”

There’s no greater pleasure than speaking to our parents and talking anything under the sun. The strong relationship we have with our family is what defines us Filipinos. This is the real relationship that we consider as infinite and valuable especially for OFWs. Our family is the biggest factor as to why we chose to tackle a different path abroad. Talking to our parents is essential especially if we start feeling nostalgic or falling apart and it has a consoling effect. We need people to talk to and be able to relate with. Thanks to modern technology that provides us an easy access to our loved ones at home. We should take advantage of this modesty in order for us to be connected and feel at home again.

According to an article I’ve read in WebMD, one of the most common causes of stress is having a heavy workload and being unhappy with your job. Yes, it affects our health and sanity; not to mention our social life. The truth is, the corporate arena is a battleground between the life and lethargy in which one has to be able to adapt and create a balance and healthy living.

“As a finance person, stress is a normal outcome of using much of my capabilities to effectively deliver my job. It makes me exhausted and pessimistic at times, to the point that changing job might be a good idea. It makes me lose sleep thinking of unfinished challenging tasks and how am I going to pull it off. Most of the times though, I am immune to the fact, that stress is a norm in the career world and is an inevitable inconvenience in doing your job properly.” Said Mr. Jouie Alcala, Finance Officer, Dubai.

I couldn’t agree more with what Mr. Alacala mentioned. We, as Filipinos, expect highly of ourselves to deliver high-quality results and effectively deliver our job because it is in our DNA. But how does he manage this inevitable stress?

“I always make sure that I have a life outside my career. In order to combat stress, I do the following: I run for 10-15 kilometers once every two nights on weekdays, I meet with my friends on weekends, I engage in sports like badminton during summer, I travel to other countries and enjoy history, nature, and culture. At times when I need to breathe, I would go home to the Philippines and see my family. Stress is manageable and I just don’t let it bother me any further than when I am at the office. I make sure to live my life to the fullest!”

There are so many ways that we can do to release the pressure at work. These are undoubtedly one of the many remedies of the killing stress at work. Physical activities are sure to have a good effect on our body and immune system.

“I have been an OFW for more than 8 years now, and the feeling of stress and depression is unavoidable. I work as a lineman and we all know how difficult it is to work outside especially during summer days. The heat exhaustion and other physical requirements of the job are hard to handle. Additionally, we are far away from home, where your mother or your father usually cooks for you and have your meal ready when you reached home. Here abroad, it is an entirely different story. You have no choice but you do all of them your own despite the stress from work.” Said Mr. Ronel P. Sipe, Lineman, Dubai, U.A.E.

There are different kinds of stress: Physical and emotional stress. Either way, they count hazard to our health. As what he said, we OFW do not always experience pleasure just like home could offer. In here, we do all our task ourselves and manage our work schedule at the same time. It may mean stress for some so he said that we could do other things to minimize or make ourselves happy. “My friends and I join basketball tournaments during our off days. It keeps us active and at the same time enjoy the company of others while having a healthy competition.”

This is absolutely right. I guess we can do the same thing. We have to identify our area of interest and making it fun to destress ourselves. Doing what we love for leisure will definitely reduce the amount of stress we feel. There are different organizations and clubs that we can join to socialize or to be involved with. Either it involves physical activities or mental, it does not matter as long as we give ourselves a break.

We definitely can think of creative things to do in making our lives a bit easier here abroad for many reasons. It may be because of our family, personal fulfillment, or adventure. Whatever that is, one thing is for sure. We wanted to be as happy as possible despite the atrocious distance from home. That is why stress and depressions should not be taken for granted as they are the true killer of our motivation and happiness. We should manage ourselves and indulge in various activities and try to forget loneliness and exhaustion.  Talk to people you love as what Emma said. Enjoy playing sports with friends and colleagues, said Ronel, and live your life to the fullest as mentioned by Jouie. We get to be active in pursuit of happiness; just like we need people in our lives as there is no way that we could live alone. Hence, the over-used line “No man is an island.”