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Living with anxiety can be extremely debilitating. There are different areas of everyday life that can amplify disorders and, for some, it is the prospect of travelling. Many individuals who suffer from panic attacks or anxiety disorders dream of a life overseas, but many are being left grounded by fears.
Anxiety is a very personal disorder, with many different categories. What might trigger one PTSD sufferer, may not affect somebody with a phobia or GAD. There is no fool proof method to alleviating anxiety, but the five tips below may help expats-to-be look forward to their exciting new lives abroad.
Phobias are a form of anxiety, and having a fear of flying or heights can have individuals missing out on so many plans abroad. Often, focusing on the specific aspects of air travel that you find most petrifying can help when putting an action plan together to help reduce anxiety levels.
It does not matter how many times people comment ‘flying is the safest mode of transport’, you are not convinced. It is most likely that you will have lots of time before your move abroad to make some positive changes in dealing with anxiety. A lot of sufferers have found specialist books to be extremely rewarding, whereas others place themselves onto fear of flying courses with airlines such as British Airways or Virgin. Your local doctor’s surgery will also be able to help you; prescribing medication to help take the edge off before your flight.
For others, it is not so much the travelling that is an issue. New countries mean new cultures and foreign languages, and this can be extremely daunting. Many new expats are also petrified about falling unwell abroad. Planning ahead in regards to healthcare is extremely important, especially of moving to a country where the facilities aren’t on par with what you are used to. Make sure to have all emergency numbers on hand, and invest in comprehensive international health insurance. Being prepared will allow anxious expats to feel in control.
Do not put off buying that one-way ticket. Taking the plunge and setting a date is important; it not only gives a sense of achievement, but means your mind has something to focus on. Sitting at home riddled with worry before even purchasing your flight ticket, when you think about it logically, is irrational. Furthermore, any type of avoidance will only increase fears, this is known as negative reinforcement. Buying your ticket should be an event! Set aside time to book your flight and celebrate in the evening with family and friends.
Once you have set a date, do not put your expat plans to the back of your mind. Living a blinkered existence until you move will only result in stomach-dropping fear in the middle of the night. If there was ever an excuse to splurge, it is now. Of course, you will need savings behind you, but embrace the concept of your new life by purchasing some new clothes or gadgets. If you do not have a laptop or tablet, now can be a fantastic opportunity to treat yourself – this will prove invaluable when contacting family.
Another clever tactic is to move to your new location a week sooner and stay in a hotel. Coerce a family member or friend into tagging along with you, and treat that week as a well-deserved holiday. This can really help ease nervous expats into their new surroundings.
It is not always a viable option, but planning your venture with a friend, family member, or partner, can undeniably take away some levels of anxiety. Living abroad with somebody that you already trust can help half the burden and provide a friendly face who understands your anxiety disorder.
All expats will miss home and having visits planned or trips home booked is essential. For those who live with anxiety, having something to look forward to will help the first few weeks of expat life feel less of a mental struggle. Before you even leave your home country, make sure you have friends flying out to see you, or invite Mum and Dad out for a week. Homesickness is uncontrollable and can hit you like a tonne of bricks, but having travel plans put in placecan help manage anxiety levels a little better.
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