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Expat Burnout — What It Is and How to Get Through It

The feeling of being burned out can hit hard, especially as an expat away from the support network of close friends and family. Here’s an explanation of what expat burnout really is and some helpful tips to help you get through it — let’s bring some joy back into your global experience!

Expat life provides you with so many amazing opportunities, making it both rewarding and worthwhile. However, the harsh reality of coping with a move abroad can set in soon and the excitement of living in a new city can wear off after a while. This is where expat burnout can happen. Hitting the ground running with your new life in a different country is a great way to settle in quickly but signing yourself up to everything and anything can become exhausting.

Expat burnout brings with it a number of negative effects such as physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of being pulled in different directions, being constantly frustrated with your expat experience, and wanting to return home for good. Before deciding to leave your expat life behind, we have a few suggestions to help you overcome expat burnout and get you back to living your best life abroad.

Stop Saying Yes to Everything

Living in a new country alone is an adventure but it can also bring a fear of loneliness as you’re away from your friends and family. At the beginning, it’s good to make the most of any opportunities to meet new people. Having a calendar full of coffee dates and dinners with friends can be a real mood booster at first but it’s a bit unrealistic, especially if you’re working full time. After a while, it can also get overwhelming to be continually busy and rush from one meet-up to the next. If you’re constantly thinking about the next exciting activity, you don’t get to enjoy what is actually happening in the present.

By spreading out social events and giving yourself time to breathe, you will be able to enjoy the time you’re spending with friends even more. It can be hard at first to not try to please everyone around you but over time you’ll learn that saying no is not the end of the world and that your friends will understand. It’s just as important to make time for yourself as it is to make time for your friends!

Make Self-Care a Priority

Being busy can stop us from checking in with our own emotions but it’s important to take care of yourself first, which might mean you need to change your priorities a little and move self-care to the top of your agenda. Taking time to actually recognize your feelings and check in with yourself is something which you should do regularly. Give yourself time to relax, slow down, and look after your mental health as it’s possibly even more important than prioritizing your physical health. If you’re feeling worn out, then listen to your body and take the hint — ignoring the signs will only make you burn out even more.

Light a few candles, have a bath, and cook yourself something delicious for dinner! Having an evening to yourself is a simple yet effective start in helping you to relax and check in with yourself.

Set Aside Time for Hobbies

Friendships, exercising, and leisure activities are all aspects of your lifestyle which you shouldn’t have to sacrifice. For a lot of people, the first thing they give up when they’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed with their busy schedules are the things that they enjoy the most but this can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Set aside some time during the week for you to enjoy your hobbies, whatever they may be. Whether it’s going to see a play or musical performance, playing your favorite video game, painting, watching a show on Netflix, or simply reading a good book — spending time away from it all and focusing on something else can help you to switch off and unwind.

Staying active also helps to reduce stress, boost your mood, and keep fit so it’s a good idea to make time for it too. This could be regular walks around your neighborhood or in your local park, going to the gym, practicing meditation or yoga, or trying out a new exercise class.

Talk to Those Around You

Moving abroad is a big step and your friends and family are probably going to want to be updated on how life is in your new city. Even though it’s great to have a support network, you might feel a bit of pressure to love every minute, especially when you don’t want to worry your loved ones. It’s difficult not to feel as though you should be living your best life but naturally nothing in life is perfect and it’s a completely normal part of the process to have a few bumps along the road!

Putting pressure on yourself to constantly be happy is not only tiring for you but also unrealistic. We all have bad days and it’s normal to feel a bit down sometimes. Don’t be scared to open up to close family and friends! They’ll be more worried if you cut yourself off from them completely. Calling a loved one from home for a chat and letting them know how you feel can help to put things into perspective and talk things through.

Get Away from It All

If you’ve hit a wall in your host country and you’re struggling to find a solution, then it might be time for you to get away from it all. Space can sometimes be what you need to put things into perspective and clear your mind. If you have the opportunity, book a weekend getaway to a city that you’ve never visited before — spending time in a new place helps you forget what you’re struggling with at home. Although it’s a temporary solution, it might be just what you need to reflect on your feelings and give you a fresh, positive outlook on your expat life!

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Mireille Auffret

"Polynesia is very far away from my home country, but InterNations helped me and my entire family cope with the transition. "

Ivan Dlouhy

"A platform like InterNations makes life easier for the scattered expat community of Polynesia. "

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