How To Deal With Stress In Your Expat Life
Congratulations! So you’ve packed your bags, got on the plane, and started your new life! This is going to be the most beautiful adventure.
But now you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out! Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Moving to a new country to start a new life is an example of both eustress, good stress, and distress, bad stress.
The Difference Between Good Stress And Bad Stress.
Eustress is the excitement when we experience something for the first time, like the first day at your new job or moving into your new home. This stress is typically short and exciting and leaves us feeling energized afterward.
Distress is trying to express yourself and not knowing the language. It’s in a new country without a support system. It’s finding your new job, to begin with.
Every day we experience a chaotic mix of both eustress and distress, which can make us feel anxious, overwhelmed, and scared because it is scary and overwhelming when you do not have the tools to sort it all out.
I’ve Been There Too.
I know when I moved to Los Angeles from Poland, I was stressed. I was so excited to start my new life until the reality of the change started to sink in.
I was in a new environment, still learning the language and getting used to the culture. It was A LOT to take in. Thankfully, I learned some tools to help me quickly deal with my anxiety. The great news is that many of these are easily accessible and can be done anywhere, for any situation!
Before we dive into these tools, let’s start by figuring out where you are holding your stress. Awareness is the first crucial step to dealing with the stress of your Expat life. Without awareness, we can not take action.
Do You Feel It Physically?
- Is your heart racing?
- Are your cheeks flushed?
- Do you feel your shoulders are right beside your ears?
- Does your chest feel tight?
- Are you holding your breath?
Do You Feel It Mentally?
- Are you having a hard time concentrating?
- Do you feel like your brain is buzzing with hundreds of different ideas?
- Are you having trouble sleeping because your brain will not rest?
Do You Feel It Emotionally?
- Do you feel scared or fearful?
- Do you have a difficult time feeling confident?
- Are you feeling lonely?
Now that you know where you are holding your stress, you have to accept that you are feeling this way. I like to say to myself, “ It is fine that I am feeling stressed today.” By saying this out loud, I have acknowledged I am feeling this way and now can take action to resolve it. I know that when my heart is racing, and I start getting very hot, I know I am stressed.
Three Tools To Destress Your Expat Life
Did you know that breathing makes physical differences in your body? Breathing deeply with intention has been scientifically proven to lower your heart rate, help clear the mind and detoxify your body.
My favorite method of breathing in any stressful situation is Box Breathing. This is when you inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for four, and then powerfully exhale through your mouth for four.
4(Inhale) -4(Hold)- 4(Exhale)
This breathing exercise can be done in any situation, whether driving, entering a new environment, or interacting with a new group of people.
2) Visualization — A mental rehearsal
There will always be new experiences we don’t feel prepared for, even if we are. For instance, at your new job, you are going in tomorrow, presenting to your co-workers and boss a new idea to help bring in more clients. This would be nerve-wracking for anyone.
Now what if you had done it before and it had been successful? Would it be as stressful? No, of course not; you know what to expect.
To do this technique, you picture yourself walking into this meeting with all the confidence, self-love, and tools you need to be successful. You are inviting all that beautiful, powerful energy into your body, allowing it to fill you up until the stress and anxiety of the situation are gone. This way, when you walk into the meeting, you can remember what that felt like and bring it into the real world.
Sometimes life has too many things going on, and you can’t seem to focus on any one thing because you have so many other things fighting for your attention. What I have found to be most effective in these situations is to write everything down. Get it all out in front of you, don’t start editing thinking that something is more important than the other. Just write it all down.
Then once it is out in front of you, pick the three most important, not the hardest or longest. Most important, schedule them into your calendar and plan to achieve these things. Once those are done, you can move on to the next three most important.
While I am working on the most important things, the other tasks on my list feel less challenging, daunting, or scary because I know I will get to them soon, which instantly lowers my anxiety and stress.
I hope you have learned new tools to help you destress your Expat life.
If you are an Expat looking for a way to change your life, join my free Facebook group “Destress your expat life. Mindfulness and Support for Expat Women.”
JOIN OUR DEDICATED FACEBOOK GROUP. Click here
Within the group, you will find programs that can transform your Expat life and a loving tribe of Expat women who share the same path and challenges.
I promise you that you are not alone, and we can go through this transition together, building a strong foundation for the rest of your life. ❤