In Episode 1, we unwrap the hidden layers of expat life beyond the anticipated culture shock. Through a mixture of my personal story and scientific methods, we reveal the unforeseen stresses and emotional undercurrents of international transitions. Dive deep with us to unveil the unseen, equip yourself with resilience, and gracefully navigate the ebbs and flows of a life overseas.
Listen to the full episode here
Or on your favourite platform
The Hidden Stressors of International Living: What Every Expat Needs to Know
For many of us, the idea of living abroad is synonymous with adventure, new experiences, and self-discovery. However, as enticing as the allure of a new country can be, there’s a side of international living that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Today, we’re diving deep into the unexpected stressors that come with the expat lifestyle and how you can navigate these challenges to create a fulfilling experience abroad.
The pitfall of complacency
It’s no secret that moving to a new country is a major decision. But many of us jump into this life change with eyes wide shut, not fully grasping the potential hurdles ahead. Why is that?
Blinded by Excitement: The thrill of a new adventure often overshadows the realities of relocating. Our enthusiasm can make us underestimate the psychological, emotional, and mental challenges ahead.
Lost in Logistics: The practicalities of an international move are extensive. From visa paperwork to house hunting, these necessities can easily overshadow our emotional and mental preparedness.
Unpacking The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
While most are familiar with the concept of culture shock, the full extent of stressors linked with living abroad is often underestimated. This is where the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, or Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, comes into play.
This scale evaluates 43 life events, rating them based on their potential to cause stress. Interestingly, even positive changes can induce stress due to the adjustments they demand. While the death of a spouse tops the chart with a stress score of 100, even holidays can add a score of 12.
For many expats, the accumulation of these events in a short span can lead to a “compound effect”, intensifying their overall stress levels. The total stress score of a typical international move, considering factors like change in living conditions, social activities, and habits, is a staggering 249. This means that an expat has a 50% chance of a health breakdown within two years post-move, if not managed correctly.
The Personal Cost of Unmanaged Stress
Speaking from personal experience, my move from Denmark to the Netherlands in 2011 was both exhilarating and incredibly taxing. The excitement of the relocation, paired with personal events like my wedding and subsequent job search, took a significant toll on my well-being. A year later, pregnancy added to the stress, highlighting the relentless nature of life’s challenges even as an expat.
This personal journey underlines the critical importance of acknowledging and addressing the compound stress inherent in international living. By understanding and confronting these stressors head-on, we stand a better chance of navigating them without long-term negative impacts.
Key Takeaways and Moving Forward
Acknowledge the Impact: Recognizing the full extent of the stress of international living is the first step towards addressing them.
Invest in Emotional and Mental Fitness: Equip yourself with tools to manage stress. Whether it’s mindfulness practices, seeking out support groups, or getting professional help, ensure you have a robust system in place.
Empathize with Fellow Expats: Share your journey and lend an ear to others. Finding solace in shared experiences can be a potent tool for coping.
If you’re curious about the stress score of your own international move, check out the quiz based on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. And stay tuned for future content where we’ll explore strategies to effectively manage these challenges.
In the end, every expat journey is a testament to courage and resilience. Embrace it, own it, and most importantly, support each other through it. Until next time!
Ready to binge? LIsten to previous episodes right here.
Welcome to ‘Be Happy Abroad: How to live a fulfilling & meaningful life as an International’, your podcast for knowledge, tips and inspiring stories on living happily as an international or expat. Every week, we delve into topics like cultural adaptation, overcoming language barriers and typical challenges encountered in an international & intercultural life, creating fulfilling connections and maintaining ties to home. We provide actionable insights and practical tips for every stage of your expat journey. Whether you’re considering moving abroad, freshly arrived in a new country, or a seasoned expat, ‘Be Happy Abroad’ is your essential resource for living and working abroad successfully.
In this episode, we explore the transformative concept of the 3P’s of resilience, developed by Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology. Discover how your individual explanatory style – the way you internally narrate and interpret life’s events – significantly influences your experience and resilience.
We’ll explore the three critical dimensions of this style: Personalization (internal vs. external attribution), Permanence (viewing situations as changeable or unchangeable), and Pervasiveness (global vs. specific impact). By understanding these aspects, you can shift your perspective to manage stress better, tackle challenges with a supportive mindset, and enhance your overall resilience – especially vital in life’s transitional phases like moving abroad.
Join us as we offer practical questions and reflections to help you identify and adapt your explanatory style, paving the way for personal growth and a more resilient approach to life’s ups and downs. Whether facing job rejections or adjusting to new environments, this episode is a valuable tool for anyone looking to foster a healthier, more empowered mindset.
Go to https://behappyabroad.com/8 for additional information and resources.
Would you like personalised support and feedback? Grab your spot for a complimentary connection session now: https://calendly.com/be-happy-abroad/happyabroadcall
Did you enjoy this episode? Leave us a review and share the podcast with your international friends, so they too can be on their journey to fill their life abroad with more freedom, joy, love & happiness.
What would you like to hear about in future episodes? Reach out to email@example.com and let us know. We love to get our listeners’ feedback.