Are Expats More Resilient?
Do you think expats are more resilient?
"Resilience" is the positive capacity of people to survive and "bounce back" after failures and adversity. I think it is a pretty complex topic. In addition, what makes you thrive and happy, may be stressful for somebody else. However, no matter what the nature of the stress, resilience can be developed by learning adaptive coping strategies.
I am just now in the middle of move #12, going back to New Jersey, USA, after two years in Brussels, Belgium. The fact that I have been a serial expat for 20 years, between Europe, Japan and USA does not make the packing and the administrative work easier but psychologically, I feel more confident to ride the emotional roller coaster or "culture shock" most people experience when moving to an unknown city. By living and working abroad I got exposed to a wide range of unusual stressful experiences, sometimes even life-threatening, allowing me to develop specific coping strategies.
The impact of external changes on individuals such as moving to a new country, facing unemployment, switching to a new career can create stress, fear, anger, depression, feeling like a victim, confusion, decrease in performance, ineffective problem solving or poor decision making.
Are long term expats better equipped to adapt to economic turmoil, disruptions, changes, transitions and stress ?
Coping skills are very personal and usually developed by way of past experiences, which is why long term expats who have gone through many transitions develop healthy habits that add to their resilience.
What are the Key Characteristics of Resilient people?
- Ability to "bounce back" and "recover from almost anything"
- Tendency to see problems as opportunities
- Deep-rooted faith in a system of meaning
- Healthy social support network
- Being helpful in their communities
- Are prepared for the worst
- Have a balanced life
- Are confident and develop strengths to take new challenges
- Able to recover from experiences in the panic or trauma zone
How To Develop Resilience ?
1-Awareness: Identify your hot buttons. Who are toxic people in your life? What stresses you, under what circumstances and what are your emotional responses? Do you have negative self-talk? What coping strategies do you use? What activities give meaning to your life? What positive emotions do you experience when you do something your really love?
2-Be in Control: When things go out of your control, focus on part of you life you can control, such as changing your perception and perspective, exercising, journaling, talking with friends, stopping the blame game.
3-Create a support network: Deepen your relationships with people in your network, share a hobby with friends, help other people, write a blog, create your support group, use social networks.
Conclusion: Resilience grows from overcoming setbacks. It is a mind-set that induces positive attitudes and behaviors, thereby enlarging your vision of your life.
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