Expat Burnout: what is it and how to overcome it?
04 November 2021
It is not surprising that over the last year and a half, more employees than ever have been experiencing burnout in one form or another. The world has battled against the first pandemic in a century. The resulting lockdowns, restrictions in movements and requirements to isolate has meant many people are missing out on that most basic of needs, human connection.
What is expat burnout?
Is expat burnout different to expat depression?
Overcoming expat burnout
1. Leaning to say no (politely)
If you are on your first assignment or new to a particular culture, you may feel you have a lot to learn and so begin a cycle of saying yes to every opportunity that manifests itself. If you think this has been a contributory factor to your burnout, take some time to learn how to say no, without offending people. This will allow you to prioritise what is important without stretching yourself too far. Some easy ways to say no politely include:
- “Unfortunately I have too much in my schedule this week"
- “How about you try it on your own first and I’ll assist if needed?”
- “How thoughtful of you to ask but it won’t work out this time”
2. Prioritise self-care
Self-care is going to be different for everyone. It is at its essence doing the things you need to do to stay physically and mentally well. Acts of self-care include but are not limited to:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Making time to relax
- Making time to connect with others
- Making time for yourself
- Making time to do the things you enjoy
3. Speak to HR
4. Take some time off
5. Take a break from technology
6. Get creative
7. Sleep more
It is estimated the average adult requires 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night. If you are not getting this, conduct a sleep audit to understand why not? If you have children, you may be good at building a good sleep routine for them but what about yourself? We all benefit from a bedtime routine. Some simple steps to follow include:
- Getting up at the same time every day [yes even at weekends]
- Allowing screen free wind down time of at least 30 minutes
- Try relaxation methods like meditation
- Wind down in a dimly lit room
- Don’t toss and turn if you can’t sleep, get up and stretch, read or another calming activity until you feel tired.
There is no doubt we are living through a time where many of us are facing challenges personally and professionally we may never have encountered before. If you feel it is becoming too much and you are suffering from burnout, act now. Taking time to heal will pay dividends in the overall success of your assignment.