Whatever the reason you find yourself ‘abroad’, away from your ‘cultural’, ‘spiritual’ or ‘family’ homeland, being an expat can be hard.
Relocating to another country comes with its own set of difficulties and concerns that, if not fully overcome, can all too often lead to mental health challenges.
Expat Therapy helps you find your balance and grounding when you feel uprooted and displaced.
Am I an Expat?
You may find yourself in the UK for many different reasons:
- Economic – you have moved for work and a better income
- Romantic – you have moved for love with your partner or family
- Political – you have moved for your own safety or for survival
The emotional challenges of being an Expat
Your early life as an Expat can feel like an emotional roller coaster: All the hoped-for experiences and excitement mingled with negative feelings such as loneliness and moments of anxiety, especially when being faced with a brand-new reality.
From the culture shock and feelings of homesickness to the lack of sleep and despairing over paperwork, expats can easily sucumb to stress and mental health issues.
The stress on Expats working in the City of London
Many people who relocate to the UK, have high expectations of themselves which increases the pressure to cope and perform.
International companies in the City recruit from around the world paying well and having high expectations of their Expat employees. Often these companies ‘expect’ their Expat employees to knuckle down and get on with the high-pressure roles they are being well paid to perform, coping with the additional emotional issues of being an Expat is expected.
The additional stress when you are the non-working Expat partner
Those who relocate with their partners, but who are not coming to work, have the additional challenges of being an Expat but with no work to ‘structure’ their daytime and to focus on.
It can be harder for the non-working partner to build new routines, find purpose and feel fulfilled. The challenges of being in this foreign land can be both big and small from:
- Not being able to work without a visa
- Not speaking the language well enough to feel comfortable either in a social situation or perhaps when you need medical help
- Not being able to find your favourite foods or comforts
- Not seeing familiar faces and places that help you feel grounded
What are the emotional issues faced by Expats?
Whatever the reason that you find yourself in London the challenges of being an Expat are often the same:
- A feeling of not belonging or being on the outside
- Difficulty adjusting to the new culture especially if English is not your mother tongue
- Feeling homesick and isolated missing well-loved comforts or climate
- Struggling to make a long-distance relationship work
- The challenges of bureaucracy and red tape and understanding new systems or work
Expat Therapy to help you find your balance
For many Expats living and working in London it can be hard to explain to others what you are thinking and feeling. You may not want your work colleagues or friends to know that you are struggling, preferring to be seen as ‘coping well’ with the transition and change. It may be that you are not getting a sympathetic ear from peers or partners who ‘don’t get what the problem is’.
It can be hard to get support from friends and family ‘back home’ as they only see the exciting adventure that you are on.
It can be especially hard if your Expat partner, family or friends seem to be doing fine.
Talking with an experienced therapist about your reality and your situation can help you to find ways of managing emotions and feelings around living and working in an unfamiliar and sometimes alien environment.
Expat Therapy| Finding a Therapist to help with emotional issues following your relocation to London
Though it isn’t necessary for a therapist to have had first hand experience of being an expat themselves to be able to support you, many of the City Therapy Rooms therapists have relocated from their homeland or country of birth to live and work in London and can bring their own unique experience and knowledge to the expat therapy session. Agata Pisula, Alvaro Navarro, Giulia Sciannandrone, Malgorzata Milewicz and Silvia Lautier are all therapists who have moved from their country of birth to work in London.
Find a therapist to talk through your experiences of being an Expat in London.
© Brian Cotsen