However, it’s hard to gauge what the emotional impact of a move abroad will be, and the effect on mental health can sometimes be significant.
It’s a problem that some prospective expats may not wish to think about, however, a recent report released by Aetna International shed some light on the extent of the emotional issues.
The health insurance provider surveyed 5,000 globally mobile members – only six per cent reported that they had been concerned about the potential repercussions on their mental well-being before relocating and/or working abroad.
Highlighting numerous issues that people moving around the world commonly experience, the main stress factors uncovered by the report included: loss of a support network, difficulty overcoming language and cultural barriers, and trouble dealing with the challenges of a new job.
Although the research focused on employees who relocate for work, many of the issues can apply to all expats.
Overcoming emotional stress for the best possible expat experience
The good news is that knowing these key factors beforehand should help you prepare for them, allowing you to take a preventative approach to emotional stress and, therefore, enjoy the happy expat life you always wanted.
It’s true that if you’ve built a strong support network of friends and family back home, it can be tough to leave it behind. But living in a different country is a wonderful opportunity to build a new support network. So, try to immerse yourself in the culture, learn the language, and form new friendship circles. And don’t forget that friends and family back home are just a Skype call away.
It will also help to find an outlet for your stress – a way to help clear your mind. This is why finding a hobby is crucial. It can also be a great way of getting you to engage with your new environment (for instance, if you’ve moved to the Algarve, then why not look into taking up golf? You’ll be playing on some of the finest golf courses on the planet).
Taking up a stress-busting hobby is likely to involve doing a bit of research into your local community to find out what is available, but it could be the start of a great new adventure over and above your new employment.
If there is an activity that you’ve particularly enjoyed doing in your home country, then it’s a good idea, before moving, to check if you’ll still be able to take part in it once you’ve moved to your new destination (inability to take part in activities available at home was identified as another leading stress factor in the report).
And there are plenty more ways in which you can help yourself. For more advice on this topic, why not take a look at our blog onhow you can beat the expat homesickness bug – the perfect remedy if you ever feel yourself struggling with feelings of loneliness.
As for the issue of struggling with the demands of a new job while in another country, luckily, there is much that can be done to improve the situation. The Aetna report suggests several pre-emptive measures that employers responsible for expat employees can take to prevent the pressure of the job taking its toll on emotional health.
For example, one suggestion is for employers to implement programmes and policies, such as flexible work scheduling and onsite fitness and child care facilities, to help promote a healthy work-life balance. Hopefully, studies such as the one from Aetna will help raise awareness and promote further change, encouraging employers and HR professionals to make sure struggling expat employees have access to any help they need. Don’t hesitate to speak to your employer or HR department to see if you can come up with a way to make your expat work life more manageable.
And while everyone will have different stress factors present in their lives, concerns over money shouldn’t be one of them. Providing a range of expat financial services, from advice during Brexit to expert tips on your regular savings, Blacktower’s experienced advisers can provide you with all the expert advice and guidance you need.
Let a Blacktower financial adviser look after your finances, so you can focus on looking after yourself.