Staying calm and focused when life throws huge life challenges at you isn’t always easy. Change is guaranteed for everyone in life, no exception. How we cope with it impacts our overall happiness and wellbeing. Some people thrive on change, while others find it hard to deal with. Change can be scary however, it can be incredibly empowering too!
Expats cope with unique challenges
Expats go through unique changes, sometimes all at the same time. Moving home is considered to be one of the most stressful things to go through. Stress levels rise even higher when a move involves moving to a new country. Thoughts and emotions can be a rollercoaster of excitement, fear, apprehension, worry, and happiness. Let’s face it, moving to a new country involves:
- Moving away from family and friends
- Leaving behind all that is familiar
- Looking for a new home
- Trying to establish new friendships
- Learn a new language (not always)
- Start a new job (can be stressful)
- Making sure the family are happy
It is easy to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Coping with fear
I have seen people turn down great expat opportunities abroad due to fear of change. Unfortunately fear keeps you stuck. Avoidance and excuses are other tactics because comfort zones feel “safe”. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to living life to the fullest is yourself. As a result, your mind can be your best friend or worst enemy.
Learning how to cope with limiting beliefs
When we move obstacles of limited beliefs and perceived fears out of the way, life opens up. Taking a leap out of the comfort zone, allows opportunity and possibility to come into your life. There are people to meet, places to go, adventures to have, things to learn once you get out of your own way. Coping with change becomes easier when you feel more empowered.
Other life impacting changes include:
- Relationship issues
- Financial problems
- Family issues
- Health problems
- Feeling homesick
Finding a way to cope with isolation, challenges and change
Going through the above can feel very isolating when living in a foreign country. You may not have had time to build a support network. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Luckily expat communities tend to be supportive of each other, however, this isn’t always guaranteed.
It is possible to navigate change in a more comfortable way. Here are some tips to help you face life challenges and changes head on.
Don’t bury your head in the sand
Acknowledge that change is happening in your life. Going with the flow is less stressful than resisting what can’t be changed.
Be aware of stress levels
Positive events can also be stressful:
- Being offered a new job
- Having a baby
- Getting married
- Going on holiday
Each person handles
Don’t make drastic changes to your daily schedule
Now is not the time to overhaul your daily schedule. Keep some things the same because you’re brain is already busy processing change.
Maintain your health and wellbeing
Stress can knock health and wellness off balance. Perhaps another glass of wine in the evening to relax has become a habit. In addition, reaching for the wrong food for the wrong reasons to comfort yourself. Be aware of your eating and lifestyle habits during periods of change. Most importantly, continue to exercise if this is what you normally do.
Keep a sense of humour
You cannot control some of the changes that arrive in life. You can however, control how you respond to it. Maintaining a sense of humour is sometimes the only thing you can do. Laughter is good for the soul and releases feel-good endorphins. A daily dose of laughter helps lower stress levels and gives immunity a boost. In other words, regular laughter promotes happiness and wellbeing.
Be careful who you spend time with
During times of change, stress levels may be a little higher than normal. Feelings of intolerance and irritability are common, therefore, be with positive people. Limit your time around those that drag you down or leave you feeling drained. Not everyone deserves a seat at your table in life.
Nourish your mind
Meditation or mindfulness isn’t for everyone because it may seem unfamiliar or “new age”. Both are great ways to reduce
Watch movies that give you a giggle. Take yourself lightly. Living in the moment, allows you to live life in the present. Choosing to spend too much time in the past, or way out in the future means that you are missing the “now” moments. The past has gone, tomorrow has yet to arrive. The only moment you have is this one. Make it matter.
Cope with fear before it starts to control your life
When you hear that little voice of self-doubt. You know the one that tells you “you are not good enough or any other
Seek help when you need it
Whether you are an expat or not, there is no shame in seeking help. Overwhelm can feel horribly uncomfortable. Coping with change can be difficult when you feel this way. Speak to those you feel close to about how you feel. Acknowledge you may need some “me” time. Ask a friend to babysit, get a cleaner in to do the housework. You don’t have to cope with it all on your own.
Having been an expat for 28 years, I have a unique and personal undersanding of the issues and problems faced by expats and non-expats. If you feel you need a little help, support, guidance or clarity feel free to get in touch.