Five mistakes we make when feeling overwhelmed

The author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit, Alice Boyes believes there are five typical reactions to being overwhelmed that only make matters worse. While that’s true for everyone, expats can be especially susceptible to acts of self-sabotage.

‘I’m too busy!’

Firstly, Boyes believes people often have great ideas about things that would help them feel better about their lives and more in control. However, when overwhelmed, they think they’re too busy. They end up waiting for an ideal moment to act that never comes. That’s something expats should definitely be mindful of, especially those who are still finding their feet. Look for the best options that are available to you now and start taking positive steps (even small ones). When we have good ideas but don’t act on them, it can lead to feelings of powerlessness, incompetence and regret.

Trust your subconscious

Secondly, when we need to get things done, we can put too much focus on the issue. But “your unconscious mind is great at problem-solving, too,” says Boyes. So, if you’re feeling stressed about your expat life (in any capacity), set some time aside to be idle – let your mind drift and reveal its ingenuity.

‘What’s wrong with me?’

Thirdly, Boyes warns that many people can be very self-critical when overwhelmed. When struggling, some expats can wonder “what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I figure this out like all those other happy-go-lucky expats I meet?” Go easy on yourself. Try to replace self-criticism with compassionate self-talk.

Flexible mindset

The fourth self-defeating reaction to extreme stress is reverting to our default approaches and defences. Boyes believes we do this as we have “less emotional bandwidth to consider other options”. That response can be unhelpful for expats as, to adapt to a new culture, and find a fulfilling life, you will need to be flexible.

Stay connected

Lastly, Boyes warns that people often withdraw from their support networks when overwhelmed. That’s extremely easy to do when you’re far from home and feel like you have no social network! She suggests identifying ways you still enjoy connecting with others. So, play with your kids. Call up a family member / old friend. Say yes to the next invite for coffee. Remember that all of the above are very understandable reactions that any person can experience. So don’t be too self-critical should they occur to you.

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

Photo: Pexels

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter and always stay up-to-date on the latest articles.

Sign up for the newsletter