Are you a career expat or spouse with have high functioning anxiety? If so, chances are you look pretty good on the outside, get things done well and are considered successful, while on the inside you may be feeling like a failure, constantly judged or never enough.
There are reasons why more career expats have high functioning anxiety than their stay-at-home counterparts. For one thing, most career expats and their spouses tend to be Type A personalities who function well and strive for perfection.
Another reason is that career expats and their spouses often live in small close-knit communities where it is easy to compare yourself to others around you. Many career expats or spouses with high functioning anxiety feel anxious around thinking that “everyone has it all together but me.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard an expat client say this to me, I’d be a wealthy woman.
And finally career expats tend to be in high- pressured jobs with huge expectations which breed high functioning anxiety.
So what can you do if you recognize yourself in this description? Here are some tips:
Tip # 1: Slow down and breathe.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive when you feel there are more things to do than hours in the day, but this works. The next time you’re feeling that racing feeling, sit down, close your eyes and focusing on your belly take 3 deep breaths. As you inhale, feel your belly expand and as you exhale, feel it contract. That’s all. Three times. This will bring you back into your body and help you relax, which ironically increases productivity.
Tip # 2: Switch your focus from being perfect to doing your best.
If you’re a career expat or spouse with high functioning anxiety who is trying to be perfect, you’re doomed because we humans are by nature imperfect beings. Accept this fact and let the notion of perfection float away. By contrast, simply doing your best does not breed anxiety. You and only you know when you’re doing it and that’s enough. It takes some pressure off, which is what we’re aiming for.
Tip # 3: Make a list of what you value most in life and make these values your priority.
There are just a given number of hours in a day, and a given number of years in a lifetime. Try and spend this time living in accordance with what you value most.
How to do this when you’re on a demanding career path? It takes some work, but if, for example, you value doing the best possible work that you can, and spending quality family time, you need to plan your time accordingly. Perhaps this means having one night a week with no work calls that is devoted entirely to your family.
If you’re an expat spouse who wants to prepare for a career change, maybe this means being a “good enough” parent and taking an online course that will lead you to your next step.
Living a value-driven life instead of a perfection-driven one is far more rewarding on every level. I invite you to experience this challenge.
For more information on expat counseling and coaching services, visit us at www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.