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Being a travelling Spouse and dealing with Emotional changes

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Changes are a main part of our life but if we have to deal with too many changes at a time, it can get quickly out of hand. We may face different physical and/or emotional symptoms such as: feeling tired and moody, anxious or being less motivated than usual. Those feelings can have a direct negative impact on our self-esteem/self-awareness, making us feel helpless, or even worse -  ‘abnormal’ (something must not be right with me). This is often combined with feeling of guilt (I am in a privileged position to travel and explore new countries, cultures. people etc; why am I not happy? That must have something to do with me, the self-blaming starts.

Why is that? Human beings are social animals and have a sense of ‘belonging’. Relationships are important for our wellbeing; relationship matters! Studies have shown that people are able to deal much better with changes like the loss of a partner, going through a divorce etc, if they have a social network they can rely on. People who are alone or do not have a stable social network (emphasise on stable) they can rely on during that difficult time are more inclined to have higher levels of stress and anxiety or to fall into a depression.

As expatriate wives/travelling spouses, we may have developed some skills due our experience over the years in coping with changes. However, it can still be frustrating when the next stint comes  having to leave behind beloved friends again and starting from scratch. Every time that happens it takes a lot of energy out of us! (with reference to the symptoms mentioned earlier).

Is there anything we can do to prevent this?

1. Accept the fact that living in a new country (environment etc) comes with an ‘emotional roller coaster’ that include mood swings, feeling low, less motivated or even angry and frustrated. This is totally normal as long as you are able to get out of these ‘moody periods’ by overcoming those feelings and not let them (your feelings) overcome you!

2. Look out for something stable in your life that you can take with you to every new place. That can be a hobby you developed over the years, or anything you are interested in. Why not explore and start something new? We are privileged to be exposed to things and people others may not have met or experienced back in our own home country. See it as a ‘souvenir’ for yourself!

3. Bonding: Whatever you decide to do, either reaching out to existing social networks or start exploring your interests/hobbies try to make them meaningful for YOU. That will bring purpose and necessary stability we definitely all need.

 

Irena Constantin has been living with her family over the past 12 years in South Asia (India, Singapore). Working abroad and being a travelling spouse herself, she understand the challenges that can occur specially bringing up kids abroad (TCK: Third Culture Kids). She currently lives and works with her Husband, her two girls and a bunch of pets in Singapore.

 


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