Tag Archives: Stress

Moving Overseas? Don’t Make Big Decisions Under pressure!


If you are an expatriate moving abroad this summer, chances are high that you are under great pressure and stress. You have made the decision to relocate few months ago, although it feels like years. Your partner is already working in your future country and you are the “trailing spouse” in charge of executing the relocation strategy. Now unexpected problems are suddenly on your way and you are facing many dilemmas.

Here some common questions expats have to ask themselves that can lead to really bad decisions if we are overwhelmed and under stress:

  • Should I sell or rent my house while living abroad ? ( Read : http://www.expatguy.com/)
  • What shall I do If the house is not sold before leaving ?
  • How should I sell my car? to a car dealer or a stranger on eBay or Craig list ?
  • Shall I plan the packing date before finding my new house abroad?
  • What do I need to  put in local storage and what must be shipped overseas ?
  • Should I rent a temporary apartment in my new destination or make a house hunt a priority before moving
  • What should I do about schools if my children are on waiting lists of several schools and cannot go to local school due to language barrier ?
  • Should I stay one more school year where I live to get more time to plan the move ?

It is not rare that we have to make big decisions when we are under some kind of pressure such as lack of time, social pressure, too many options, not enough information, highly complex situations or emotional stress.

When we are under pressure, rushed and stressed we are not in the best situation to make rational decisions.  Our emotional brain takes the control of our rational brain, and we make emotional decisions to get instant gratification and relief from the pressure. For example some people overeat or overspend when they are in such emotional state that leads to either poor decision-making or impaired impulse control.

Most of the time, pressure can’t be avoided but we can learn to switch our mind to a non-emotional and objective state to make the best decisions we can based on facts while being conscious of the emotional part of the decision process.

To get an objective mindset is really important to avoid making a bad decision we will regret for years to come. We can’t eliminate all the subjectivity of our emotions, bu we can minimize that bias and make the best decision we can  with the information we have.

Here some tips on getting a quiet mind and make rational decisions:

1-Don’t panic: The worst thing that can happen is to rush decisions too early

2-Keep your options open as long as possible : Don’t plan packing before you know the size of your future home. Better to spend money on flight tickets than having to deal with costly shipment and trashing your furniture.

3-Plan for the worst-case scenario : In case things don’t work overseas have a plan to go back where you live (keep your house for example)

4-Recognize your limitations:  You are not Captain America or Wonder Woman, nothing should be perfect. You have to admit that sometimes you can be an insecure person who doesn’t like to show shortage of knowledge.

5-Keep your pride and ego away You told the world you are going to live a great adventure abroad, friends said goodbye and you keep going just because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake. Better have shame than regrets

6-Be incredibly selfish:.Most trailing spouses are women who put other’s needs before their own needs: children, husband, old parents and so on. To be selfish is about taking the time to focus on your needs, listen to your emotions and to take care of yourself no matter how busy you life is. To be selfish is not being needy or egoist, it is a very healthy habit that helps create both emotional and physical well-being. You create more inner peace, joy and a natural balance.

7-Stay connected: As most expats you may have many expat friends on social networks like Facebook. Sharing your doubts, frustration and other emotions to like-minded people is a great coping strategy and helps you gain clarity about your thought process.. Don’t isolate yourself from local friends and neighbors because you are leaving, meet them until the last minute.

 Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is intentional

How To Stay Focused When Your Life Is A Chaos


Spring is often a time of intense excitation for many people. For example I like to “de-cluterize”  my closets and my computer or re-evaluate my business strategy. Probably mother nature makes us feel that way, showing us so much exuberance with beautiful flowers and birds singing everywhere.

It is also a very chaotic time for most expatriates who are going to relocate to another country or going back “home”. If you are moving to an unknown place, you have probably spent a lot of time and energy already to search information, connect with people you don’t know who are living or has lived in your new country. Maybe you have also to make plans to sell your current house, cars, appliances(if you don’t have the same voltage), worried about your kids’ well-being and schools, started house hunting etc.

The number of things to think about when you plan a move is a Herculean task  and you better be well prepared and organized.

When you are in transition, no matter if it is for a new job, a new house or a new country, you have to deal with a lot of stress that will prevent you to focus and  get the right things done.

Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals while enjoying your life when you are in transition:

1-Dealing with uncertainty 

When we deal with any change we have many worries and many “what If” type of questions that trigger a lot of anxiety. What if I don’t like the people in my new job ?, What if I cannot sell my house ? What if I don’t like my new country ? it is hard to focus when we are constantly worrying.

What you can do:

    • Accept that the decision you have made is the right one and do not regret it as there is no turn back
    • Let go the obsession to control everything.The only certainty we have, is that life is unpredictable, no matter how prepared we are.
    • Try to notice when you get those worries kicking
    • Identify a coping strategy like taking a break and go walking outside or write down your feelings and thoughts in a journal, talk to your friends or simply do nothing and think about a good moment of your life.

2-Keeping  Your Routine

Everyday,  you have to keep your life as usual plus add on the top all the logistics and deal with unplanned events such as waiting for a visa or finalizing your new job contract. You will experienced periods of high excitation when you are into action followed by periods of uncertainty that are really testing your patience and your morale when things are not going the way you think.

What you can do: 

    • Having rituals or daily habits helps stay focused.
    • You can choose specific days of the week to do certain activities that you need to do anyway like picking the kids at school, grocery shopping, going to the gym etc. Put those activities at a fix time in your weekly calendar as much as you can so you don’t waste your time on planning.
    • Be realistic  and conservative about the time you need, adjust your pace like for a marathon you cannot be always in an emergency mode otherwise you will get burnout.
    • Take 2 daily breaks of 30 minutes minimum for unplugging and relaxing

3-Stay Motivated : Make a “done list”

Getting things done give you a sense of control and helps you manage your stress.

What you can do: 

    • Finish everyday by revising what you have accomplished during the last 24 hours or last week or since you started working on your project. You will realize you have done much more than you think, including things that were not planned!

Your Turn : What do you do to stay focused while in transition ?

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3 Sure Ways To Never Be Happy



“Happiness is when, what you think, what you say, and what you do, are in harmony”

Mahatma Gandhi


Happiness is very subjective and its definition varies from one individual to another.  Happiness can mean :

 

  •  Psychology=Positive emotions= feeling good, joy, having pleasure

     

  •  Philosophy=Living a happy life= having a good job, enjoying family, nice relationships

     

  •  Hedonism= The pursuit of pleasure for its own sake

Three  things will keep you unhappy and unsatisfied in life if you do nothing about them:

1-Not knowing what happiness means to you. It seems obvious but many people cannot describe what makes them truly happy, how they feel exactly when they think about being happy. Thinking that if you get something you don’t have now will make you happy in the future prevents you to live in the present and look at what you already have that makes you happy. So looking for something you don’t know is a sure way to keep you frustrated.

Take some time to reflect on your life and define exactly what makes you truly happy and what you really want in life. Identify and take actions on things you have control on.

2-Pleasing others : If you do things you don’t really like just to keep others happy thinking they will love you more, then you will pay the price: not only others won’t like you more for what you do for them but you can become a victim of abusers who exploit your desperate needs to be loved.

Clean your past and understand you true needs, have them met and make a plan to quit destructive habits or toxic relationships

3-Blaming yourself : negative self-talks like I cannot be happy because I am not lovable, I am useless, I am too old, I am fat, I can’t find a job, I am not a good parent etc.

First allow yourself to feel those negative emotions. It seems a paradox but most people blame themselves for playing the blame game, saying things like:  ” I should not feel bad, other people in worse situations don’t complain”. Truly expressing what you feel is a healthy habit and it helps you identify what can be changed and allow you to be extra care for yourself.

Are You unhappy and feel stuck there ?


Are Expats More Resilient? Guest Post Published in 3Plus International Magazine


Are Expats More Resilient?

By Guest Contributor

June 16, 2011

by Anne Egros

 Anne is in the middle of move #12, back to the USA in New Jersey, after two years in Brussels, Belgium and asks if expats are more resilient ?

 “Resilience” is the positive capacity of people to survive and “bounce back” after failures and adversity. I think it is a pretty complex topic. In addition, what makes you thrive and happy, may be stressful for somebody else. However, no matter what the nature of the stress, resilience can be developed by learning adaptive coping strategies.

I am just now in the middle of move #12, going back to New Jersey, USA, after two years in Brussels, Belgium. The fact that I have been a serial expat for 20 years, between Europe, Japan and USA does not make the packing and the administrative work easier but psychologically, I feel more confident to ride the emotional roller coaster or “culture shock”most people experience when moving to an unknown city. By living and working abroad I got exposed to a wide range of unusual stressful experiences, sometimes even life-threatening, allowing me to develop specific coping strategies.

The impact of external changes on individuals such as moving to a new country, facing unemployment, switching to a new career can create stress, fear, anger, depression, feeling like a victim, confusion, decrease in performance, ineffective problem solving or poor decision-making.

Are long-term expats better equipped to adapt to economic turmoil, disruptions, changes, transitions and stress ?  Coping skills are very personal and usually developed by way of past experiences, which is why long-term expats who have gone through many transitions develop healthy habits that add to their resilience.

What are the Key Characteristics of Resilient people?

Ability to “bounce back” and “recover from almost anything”

  • Tendency to see problems as opportunities
  • Deep-rooted faith in a system of meaning
  • Healthy social support network
  • Being helpful in their communities
  • Are prepared for the worst
  • Have a balanced life
  • Are confident and develop strengths to take new challenges
  • Able to recover from experiences in the panic or trauma zone

How To Develop Resilience ?

1-Awareness : Identify your hot buttons. Who are toxic people in your life? What stresses you, under what circumstances and what are your emotional responses? Do you have negative self-talk? What coping strategies do you use? What activities give meaning to your life? What positive emotions do you experience when you do something your really love?

2-Be in Control: When things go out of your control, focus on part of you life you can control, such as changing your perception and perspective, exercising, journaling, talking with friends, stopping the blame game.

3-Create a support network: Deepen your relationships with people in your network, share a hobby with friends, help other people, write a blog, create your support group, use social networks.

Conclusion: Resilience grows from overcoming setbacks. It is a mind-set that induces positive attitudes and behaviors, thereby enlarging your vision of your life.


Anne Egros is a serial expat and holistic coach who has moved 11 times around the globe working at management levels for various industries . After a 20-year international career in Fortune 500 Companies in USA , Japan and Europe, Anne has a deep knowledge of business management.

Read more stories at   3plus international  Magazine. an International and confidential network of like-minded and supportive women worth knowing.Highly qualified and experienced mentors from around the globe, trained and certified by 3Plus International. Well connected sponsors opening doors to organisations seeking gender balance

3 Steps To Reduce Relocation Stress


[tweetmeme source=”AnneEgros]

No matter how long you have been  living abroad or how many times you moved, you can expect a lot of stress each time you are heading to a new destination even in your own country.

How you respond to stress depends on your past experiences and  on your immediate  perception of  threat or danger. Stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol speed the heart rate, slow digestion, shunt blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other body functions.

Is it  possible to reduce the relocation stress by planning ahead and learning what to expect when you arrive in your new “home”. Learn to relax with various stress management techniques. You can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place.

1-Take good care of your health :

  • Eat well,  Even when you are in transition, increase your intake of fruits and vegetable, use apples rather than highly refined junk food. Do not skip breakfast. Exercise: no time ? try to avoid using your car whenever possible, just 30 minutes per day of walking or using stairs is already beneficial for your health.
  • Sleep Enough, know what is the right number of hours you need usually between  6 and 8 hours and try to go to bed before 11pm, the quality of the sleep is better.
  • Use  stress-relief techniques : I share what works for me: breathing, meditation, essential oils, yoga, healing and new age music, hot shower a short 20 minute nap after lunch.

2-Handling the packing and unpacking softly: Before each move I always say to myself that I have to sort the junk, donate to charity or shred tons of old papers and each time I cannot choose what to keep and what to put in the garbage can. As a result, we have more and more junk stuff and unopened boxes.  When we moved from Tokyo to  Atlanta we hired Kim Cossette, a Certified Professional Organizer owner  at  http://theorganizedapproach.com/ . The work she did with her team really helped relieved a lot of stress.  We used her talent for packing from Atlanta to Brussels and she helped me sort my stuff as a result “less junk more funk” . I am not aware of any professional organizers in Europe, but try to enroll your best friends to help sorting things as soon as you know you will leave.

3-School and house hunting: These two are really difficult, especially if you are a serial expat.

For small children before primary schools it is not a real problem you can check locally with other moms.  From grade one it is challenging to keep consistency with the language and teaching method. In the US and in France, you cannot put your kids in a public  school if you don’t live in the school district. For private international schools you need to send application very early, usually March or April. Send to more than one. So my recommendation is to  look for the school first and select the house after. You can ask questions to people who are living there  by searching the internet for various support groups. For the house check the distance and traffic jam during weekdays for the trips to the school and to work.

I will add a last tip: be gentle on yourself,  expect  to have a messy house for at least 6 months to one year so making friends is your priority #1

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