As you are preparing to move abroad you will be facing a mixed array of emotional reactions. You may find that you feel excited and enthusiastic as you research and discuss your new adventure followed by wistful, sad and even tearful a while later. Usually there is a trigger for the more negative feelings. Perhaps it’s the sight of a long held possession that you need to make a difficult decision about; pack, store or throw? Or the request from a close friend for a final, final goodbye coffee or your children’ behaviour; alarming by its divergence from the norm. You reflect that the extremes of behaviour that are becoming the normality and not just for the children.
Don’t panic, this is not the sign of some deep seated psychological issue, but conversely and perhaps perversely, the very normal reaction to one of life’ biggest upheavals, moving abroad.
So, as you prepare to relocate and work your way through some challenging emotional reactions we would like to share three coping suggestions that have helped us in the past.
Prepare for mixed feelings as you take on your new expat role:
Easier said than done we know. But part of what you are now experiencing is a sense of Anticipatory Stress. Not content with feeling stress about the current packing and organizing challenges, although these are stressful enough in themselves, our pesky brains can seek to worry us about our expatriate future as well. Have we made the right decision? How will we cope when things go wrong? What will we do when X, Y or Z happens?
Positive Visualisations and contingency planning:
We’ve all had those sleepless nights when day-time niggling issues become our night-time terrors. This is no different. Yes of course there will be challenging times ahead as you relocate but the odds are that you will cope and cope very well. Positive visualisation techniques can be very helpful at this point. Visualize your challenging situations going well, really well. And repeat these visualisations on a regular basis. Research shows that your mind can’t tell the difference on a basic neurological level between what actually happens and something that you visualize regularly.
Write down a list of the possible issues and challenges and develop some plans and contingencies, visualize yourself coping confidently. Then think about everything that you feel positive about in relation to moving abroad and list those as well. Reading these two lists will help you to feel more confident and in control.
It is sad to say goodbye as you prepare to move overseas:
This can be one of the toughest aspects of relocating abroad. In moving on, we are forced to say goodbye not just to friends and family but to a way of life, our home environment. We often counter any sense of disquiet about this by playing on the positives of the relocation opportunity and this is helpful. However choosing to ignore or acknowledge that we may miss anything about our old lives means that we move on in a state of denial which can be damaging longer term.
It is important to have a balanced view about the new life we are moving to. Yes it may be a great opportunity, a fantastic adventure, an enticing new start but it is also “life” and will be full of the usual ups and downs. The downs will initially have to be navigated without our normal support structures and if mentally you have not even acknowledged that you are leaving those behind then the initial isolation combined with a sudden sense of sadness as you recognize what you did leave behind can be tough to cope with.
Take time now to think about what you are saying goodbye to. Make time to say goodbye to friends and family and plan for how you will all stay connected once you are abroad. Then start to look forward to the new networks you will create.
But there is just too much to do – time for a break:
For many people there is a point when they feel it is just all too much. The vision of opportunity and perfect organisation becomes blurred and suddenly the thought of ever making it onto that plane in one vaguely organized piece seems impossibility.
This is the time when rather than trying to soldier on you need to take some time out and invest in some serious self-care. Take a break; a day’s hike/cycle in the fresh air, book a spa treatment, a dinner with friends, a movie, a day off from packing or even thinking about the move. Give yourself some space and some rest. You will still make D-day.
Then once you feel rejuvenated, get your plan out and do some serious prioritisation. Be realistic, if it can’t all be done it can’t all be done. If some boxes arrive unsorted it will not be the end of the world. Enlist help, accept offers of support and most of all be kind to yourself.
It is important to remember that relocating abroad is an emotional and organisational deal. The two do go hand in hand but taking care of your emotional well-being and your mental approach will definitely help you to achieve a smooth transition and onward adaptation to success abroad.
Moving house can be a difficult process at the best of times, moving to a whole new country can be much harder. There are many things to think about and make decisions about. white and Company offer a full international removals service, specialising in removals to South Africa, Australia, Canada, and thousands of other destinations. If you require any further information about our services or would like to book your free house survey, contact our international office today on 01489 774907.