How to make a successful international move without becoming depleted
You’ve just accepted an offer to take on an expat assignment and are about to move to a new country. How do you manage your energy to make sure you are not exhausted by the time you’re halfway through your move? Here are five tips for doing that.
1.Pace yourself and know when you need a break
Planning and implementing an international move requires a lot of effort and energy. However, it’s almost impossible to stay focused and ‘on the go’ the whole time. One common mistake I see expats make is to try to keep going without taking any breaks. This often leaves them exhausted by the time they are done with the physical move, which is also the time when they need to devote all their energy to settling into their new location.
When you’re in the middle of an expat move, taking occasional breaks – to de-stress, unplug, relax and recharge your batteries – will help you stay fit to meet the demands of each phase of the move. Start by assessing your energy levels regularly, so that you know when you are approaching a state of depletion. Be mindful of how your body reacts to stress – symptoms may include headaches, irritability, insomnia or other physical signs. Pause and notice. If you can, take a break between the two sides of a move – origin and destination – or the packing and unpacking phase, to recharge and do something good for yourself (and your partner or family, if relevant).
2. Know what you need to recharge; and take action
We all have different outlets for stress that help us get rid of physical as well as emotional tension. What works for you? Maybe that’s going for a walk, visiting family or friends, meditating, getting some exercise, engaging in a favorite hobby or taking a spa day.
Once you know what you need, be proactive about scheduling those activities, to make sure they happen. Block the times in your calendar – and do that regularly. Set reminders on your phone, if that helps you stick to your schedule. Establishing daily or weekly self-care rituals and routines is particularly helpful. Such routines will keep you grounded and energized as you go through an international transition.
3. Stay connected – with yourself and others
It’s easy to forget to stay connected to yourself when there’s so much else going on that demands your attention. However, this is precisely the time you most need to look out for your own needs, because that will help you get through challenges and thrive through your transition. Preparing and going through a move can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to eat well, sleep enough and get sufficient exercise, so that you can stay healthy. Besides establishing self-care rituals and routines, it’s important to take time to tune into your state of mind and emotions. Scheduling regular time just for yourself, to do something that nourishes your spirit, can work wonders in terms of replenishing your energy deposits.
If you are moving with a partner and/or family, make time to connect with them. Keep open the lines of communication. Check in regularly with each other on how the move is going. Be mindful of their feelings and needs, but also open and honest about your own. Ask for and offer support. Be a team and help each other stay energized and grounded.
4. Regularly remind yourself of the reasons for making this move: your intention or ‘why’
What are your goals for this move? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to bethrough the whole experience? These are simple yet powerful questions that will help you gain clarity on your intention and sense of purpose related to the move. The answers to these questions will help you stay on track when times are challenging or when you feel overwhelmed. I recommend writing them down, printing them out and keeping them handy, somewhere where you will see them every day. Connecting to your intention, especially during tough times, can be both soothing and energizing.
5. Last, but not least, ask for help
Be attuned to how you feel. If things get rough, do not hesitate to ask for help from a qualified professional. Sometimes expats can get so overwhelmed by the process of moving that they wait too long to seek psychological support. Keeping up appearances or pretending everything is perfect takes a lot of energy and often talking to someone who ‘gets it’ is all it takes to feel better.