What is expat fatigue and how can you deal with it?

07 May 2021
Expat fatigue is a recognised phenomenon, and it can have a significant impact on your life abroad. It arises out of the unique set of challenges facing expats when moving to and living in a new country - from making new friends and dealing with homesickness to adjusting to a new language and trying to fit into the dynamics of your new culture, environment, and even workplace.

Expat fatigue brings with it a number of negative emotions such as a sense of exhaustion, feeling pulled in different directions, being constantly frustrated with your expat lifestyle, and having increasingly frequent thoughts of wanting to return to your home country for good. 

The feeling of being ‘burned out’ can hit hard, particularly as you’re far away from the support network of friends and family. It can occur at any stage of your expat experience; for example when you’re preparing to move to another country, when you’ve just arrived and are setting up your new life, or during the daily routine of your established international life.

If the fatigue of navigating your new life overseas is starting to feel too much, these 8 tips are a good start in helping you deal with expat burnout and getting back on track. 

Scheduling time to relax and making this a part of your daily routine is key to supporting your wellbeing. Whether it’s watching a show on Netflix, cooking a nutritious meal, booking a spa day, joining a meditation class or reading a good book, spending time away from it all and focusing on something else can help you to switch off and unwind. 
Decorate your new home the way you like it and make it as homely and welcoming as you can so you feel good within your own four walls. You don’t have to invest lots of money in redecorating; it can be as simple as buying some fresh flowers, putting up photos of family and friends around your home or creating a cosy corner for yourself. 
Set aside some time during the week to enjoy your favourite hobbies. Take up a cooking class, a dance class or a painting class. You’ll get to meet new people who share the same interests with you. This will not only be a source of relaxation, but also a very good way to keep your familiar routine.
Staying active helps to reduce stress, boost your mood, and keep fit. This could be regular walks around your neighbourhood, jogging in your local park, going to the gym, practicing yoga, or trying out a new online exercise class.
Become a tourist in your adopted city again and visit the sites and museums. Taking some time to do a bit of exploring can help you to see your current city in a whole new light. Go to a new coffee shop, try a different walking route or visit a store that you’ve been wanting to go into for a while. 
Take excursions and day-trips at the weekends, or book a holiday to another city. Sometimes you just need to take a break and go somewhere where you can feel like a tourist.
Connecting with other expats in your area can really help, because your fellow global nomads are most likely going through similar struggles with the language, bureaucracy and adjusting to the local cuisine and culture.  
Use apps like Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp to stay connected with your friends and family back home. Try to book some trips home at regular intervals so you can spend “in-person” time with your loved ones. Having a few trips planned ahead of time will also give you something to look forward to.