Going home for the summer can be stressful for expats, particularly if you don’t have your own home and will be staying with friends or family. Here are a few tips for reducing stress this summer.
Expat Stress Reduction, Tip # 1: Take time for yourself.
The more stimulation there is, the more important it is to take some time alone. You might focus on your breath for 10 minutes, take a Yoga class, or go out for coffee with a good book. Sometimes just a few minutes by yourself can bring you back to a sense of peace and calm.
Expat Stress Reduction, Tip # 2: Adjust your expectations of the folks around you.
If you find yourself feeling annoyed, notice what your expectations are of others. Do you expect to resume right where you left off? Do you expect that your friends and family will want to hear all about your life abroad and see countless pictures? These may not be conscious expectations, but if you look within, you’ll find the answers. If you have some of these expectations, try to adjust them to be more in line with the reality of folks at home having their own lives and moving on.
I’ve always found that friends and family at home have a finite amount of time and patience with which to look at your fabulous pictures from across the globe or listen to your stories about expat life. This is not because they don’t love you. It’s because they simply can’t relate to your experience, for one thing. For another, it might make them question their own lives and bring up feelings of insecurity or envy, so tread lightly here.
Expat Stress Reduction, Tip # 3: Be willing to step into the shoes of the folks at home.
Imagine how you might feel if the situation were reversed. You might imagine all kinds of exciting experiences that your friend had and be a little jealous. You might even feel that you no longer have much to contribute to the relationship. Then think about how you might put others at ease and help them feel more comfortable with you.
Let friends and family know they are loved and valued by you. Tell them how important they are to you and why. This will rekindle and deepen the bonds between you.
Expat Stress Reduction Tip # 4: If you find yourself getting irritated at times, find another outlet for your anger.
We all become irritated or annoyed at times, particularly if we’re living with family or friends over the summer. If we’re annoyed or angry with one of our family members, old unresolved feelings from childhood might come up. Unless you have the kind of relationship where you can be truly heard by the other person, you might want to consider other ways of handling these feelings.
I suggest taking the time to exercise, a good run is a great way to relieve negative emotion, yoga, meditation or planning an event or mini trip to get away, and in general being particularly kind and gentle with yourself. Pretend that you’re a very loving parent to the small child inside of you, and ask her or him what they’d like to do. Allow gentleness with yourself to become your new mantra.
By following these tips, you’ll go a long way toward feeling less stress and more joy this summer.
Dhyan Summers, MA, is a licensed psychotherapist and coach and is the director of Expat Counseling and Coaching Services Online. To book a free session with Dhyan, visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.