From expat blues to giver’s glow

It’s common for expat partners to feel a little lost and lonely after relocation. They could try some ‘helper therapy’, advises Stephen Post, a US professor of preventive medicine.


“Pulling up roots disrupts relationships, no matter how much we try to stay connected-in-a-way by electronic gadgets,” he writes in Psychology Today. “People back home move on to new relationships in the real world of face-to-face interactions. So we lose what sociologists refer to as ‘social capital,’ and need to rebuild it as soon as possible for our mental and physical health,” he explains.

New networks

In Post’s expert opinion, volunteering is an excellent way to recreate social networks. After all, people who volunteer tend to report better health, greater happiness, lower anxiety levels, deeper meaning, and even sleep a little better. “Helping is a buffer against helplessness, and an affirmation of self efficacy,” he says. “Find something to do that is meaningful, draw on talents and strengths in order to feel effective, and have faith that even if at first you are not quite inspired, your capacity of joy will eventually catch up with your actions.”

Source of stability

‘Giver’s glow’ is how Post refers to the benefits of helping others. He states: “We can be anywhere, so long as we are helping others and caring for them. This is probably the one source of stability in our lives that we can truly depend on, and so in the end we are never really out of place. At the right dose, contributing in small ways to the lives of others is a one-a-day vitamin for body and soul.”

Photo: State Farm – Flickr

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