Managing Chronic Stress as an Expat


November 2022 

With all the common challenges expats face when settling abroad, that feeling of being unprepared in the early stages of moving overseas can quickly develop into chronic stress. 

Unfortunately, stress is not completely avoidable no matter how prepared you are for your assignment. Learning how to manage it is a step in the right direction. 

Studies show that expats are more vulnerable to experiencing emotional difficulties like stress, depression, anxiety, and marital challenges.  Not only are you adjusting to a new environment but moving away from home also increases your chances of feeling isolated. On top of these challenges, expats can also experience barriers in communication, cultural differences, and access to local healthcare services. 

Stress comes in all forms and is usually unique to the individual experiencing symptoms. How can you pinpoint if you are experiencing chronic stress? Key telltale signs of chronic stress usually come in the form of:

• Feeling unmotivated and unproductive

• Having a bad sleeping routine 

• Experiencing symptoms of social anxiety 

• Mood swings and emotionally charged states

When you experience high levels of stress your body responds by releasing response hormones. Releasing high levels of adrenaline and cortisol helps your body and mind perform under pressure. Having high levels of these hormones leaves your body in a constant state of alert. If this is continued over a long period of time it can have a serious impact on your health. Living with stress may make you more vulnerable to health conditions including, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and Alzheimer’s.
Over 90% of global expats reported having experienced stress and 98% experienced symptoms of burnout. Learning how to manage and reduce your stress levels as an expat will have a lasting effect on your overall health and well-being. 
Making time for exercise is one of the best ways to help relieve your symptoms of stress. Get out for a long walk or sign up for some workout classes at your local gym.
Focusing on something that brings you joy can help you deal with a stressful week and unwind. Signing up for a new class will give you the chance to meet new people in the area. It’s also another great way to destress.
Catching up with your family and friends is a great way to relieve any feeling of homesickness. Getting to share your stresses with someone can help you let things go. Catching up on each other’s lives will also spark some positivity into your day. 
When you’re feeling stressed all you want is some home comforts. As an expat this is when homesickness can start to sink in. Getting out and exploring your new environment will help get your mind off things. You also get to see the benefits of living abroad. Get out and find your new favourite local café or morning walking route to create some new home comforts. 
If you find yourself stuck in a constant state of stress, reaching out to a professional can help you alleviate your symptoms. At Allianz Care, we offer multilingual and confidential support for mental, financial, physical, and emotional well-being with our expat assistance programme. Helping you plan for the future with support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.