Relaxation for Latines Is Actually a Way of Healing Generational Trauma


I recently came across the book “The Pain We Carry: Healing From Complex PTSD for People of Color” by Natalie Y. Gutiérrez, and it is helping me understand why relaxation just wasn’t something we did when I was growing up. I mean, I did do it, but if I was “caught” relaxing, I was called a ‘floja’ and made to feel guilty about it. 

I was raised by a single immigrant mom, who was constantly hustling. She had and still has what I refer to as “no chill.” It has always bothered me that she can never seem to relax, but I could never really put into words why it felt wrong until now. Her inability to relax is what Gutiérrez calls a “cultural legacy burden.” These legacy burdens are passed down from generation to generation without us knowing or even questioning the “why” behind them. 

Gutiérrez shares one person’s story that so perfectly encapsulates why many Latines have a  hard time relaxing. Like so many of us, this person was raised to glorify “grind culture” and believe that they have “to work harder than others” just to catch up. 

It’s almost as if we haven’t earned the right to relax because we have to constantly be proving our worth in a society that does not value us. But the truth is that not only do we deserve to relax, we need to! You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what the folx at Yale have to say about it: 

“Research shows that relaxation keeps your heart healthier, cuts stress, reduces muscle tension, improves brain function and memory, and helps you avoid depression, anxiety, and obesity. It boosts your immune system and helps alleviate the symptoms of many medical and psychological disorders.“

I, for one, have no interest in passing this cultural legacy burden onto the next generation, so you best believe I model relaxing for my kids. I’m also happy to know that there are many like-minded relaxers in our community, and I want to share with you how they relax.

Claudia Ramos, Graphic Designer and Entrepreneur

“I try to remind myself to take a break and relax every day, but sometimes I get so caught up that I forget. If I do that, I usually take a day off or start my day a little later, so I can get some rest. I love blasting music and dancing!”

Cepee Tabibian, Founder of She Hit Refresh

“How I relax depends on my mood, time constraints, and if I’m alone or not. If I don’t have time to leave my home, I’ll read a book, watch another episode of the latest series I’m hooked on, or if I’m strapped for time, I just step out on my balcony and take a look at the Mediterranean Sea.”

Jeannette Kaplun, Founder of Hispana Global

“I do breathing exercises every day. Aside from breathing in deeply, I cuddle with my dog, schedule time to see friends or will watch a guilty-pleasure series. If I am having a really hard time relaxing, dog videos always make me smile.”

Alejandra Arce, Coach de Habitos, Wellness, y Mindset

“Tengo mis diferentes métodos: a veces ir al gym me relaja mucho y más el feeling after de hacer ejercicio. Pero también hacer un hike siento que descargó mucho cuando estoy en la naturaleza. Si por alguna razón esas opciones no están disponibles, en casa busco alguna buena meditación de 15-20 minutos y eso me ayuda mucho.”

Jessica Marquez Cable, Writer

“My favorite way to relax is through stillness and breath work. I find that settling my body into a comfortable position and breathing with awareness is a simple and accessible way to unravel any tension I am holding onto. It only takes a few minutes and never fails to put me in a state of ease and flow.”

Your turn: How do you relax? Share with us in the comments over at the AMIGAHOOD!

About the Author

Claudya Martinez 

Claudya Martinez is a writer and content creator with a sense of humor. She loves collaborating with #WeAllGrow. You can follow her at @byclaudya on IG.




Amigas News

Sending a little love and inspiration to your inbox every week! Sign up for the #WeAllGrow newsletter to stay up to date with the latest and greatest from our comunidad!