The Next Move Abroad: Stress & Overwhelm

May 22, 2023 in Ex-pat

moving abroad

The Next Move Abroad

The summer is around the corner and for many of us expats that means the season of change. Not just the seasonal arrival of hot, balmy nights and glasses of rosé on the terrace, but the season of moving abroad and uprooting once again.

It may not be the first time you have moved away from your home, but maybe there are kids in tow this time. 

Maybe this time you find yourself pregnant, you have a dog, you run your own business or you just started a new job. 

Or perhaps you have a sick family member that you are moving away from.

Or maybe you anticipated one more year in your current location, and leaving has thrown you for a loop.

The scenarios are endless for what your situation might be right now as you prepare for your upcoming move abroad.


For most of us expats, the move is never easy no matter what is happening in our lives.

It is normal if you are feeling overwhelmed and even grieving as you anticipate your move abroad. 

There is a lot to prepare and do to move yourself and your family away. Grieving for your life as it was, grieving for the friends you will leave behind, and grieving for the familiar are all normal emotions to have. 

Feeling overwhelmed and feeling stressed are normal reactions to such a big change in our lives. 

Almost everything you’re familiar with changes when you move.


tips for moving abroad

Acknowledging your feelings as you move abroad

Our human brains want to avoid pain and suffering. We don’t want to let the pain in because we don’t want to hurt. These feelings are vibrations in our bodies and we try to push the vibrations away. We want to hide from them and pretend they aren’t there.  However, by doing this we create resistance and then more negative emotions. 

Resisting our feelings doesn’t make our sadness, overwhelm or grief go away nor does it make us feel better.  

When we open ourselves up to all the emotions we are feeling, we lessen the resistance and therefore the grip that those feelings have on us.

As you prepare for your move abroad be open to ALL the emotions you are feeling. Let yourself feel them, acknowledge them, get curious about them, embrace them, name them. 

Feel all the feelings.

Embracing your suffering makes you stronger and allows you to get through this period more smoothly.

Experiencing stress and overwhelm as you prepare to move abroad & how to coach yourself through it

Our brains love certainty and they love routine. Moving turns this on its head as there is not a lot of certainty and our routines are thrown to the wind. This can create feelings of stress and overwhelm.

It is therefore not that the move itself IS stressful or overwhelming but that managing our minds during a move is difficult because of the way the brain works.

As you move through these next fews months it is important to go easy on yourself. 

Don’t be judgemental 

Practice the words of affirmation you already have in your tool kit to help you get through difficult times.

Every expat has difficulties with moving. Maybe you have even met expats who seem to have it all under control. They seem to be unphased by the uncertainty, the pile of things that need doing, and the unknown that awaits them on the other side. Perhaps you have even thought to yourself, “how are they so cool and collected and how are they not stressed out?”.

If you have met these people then you have the evidence that it is not the situation that is stressful, but your own brain that is creating feelings of stress and this can in fact be managed.

move abroad

There is nothing too hard for you to overcome. You are able to navigate your move abroad with grace and peace.

As you approach the coming months and you prepare for your move abroad, there are a few thoughts that you can intentionally have to make your transition smoother. 

This is what we call self-coaching. 

You can coach your brain through this and make your brain work for you. You have the ability to be like the expat you know who seems to have it all under control. 

Some empowering thoughts to self-coach yourself with as you prepare for your upcoming move abroad:

  • This summer is going to be hard. I know it is. I am ready for it to be challenging and I am ready for my mind to be messy. And it is ok. It is normal.
  • My feelings are probably going to be 'stress' and 'overwhelm' as I navigate through this summer. That’s my brain trying to protect me. But I get to decide how I show up and how I navigate these next few months. One step at a time.
  • I am going to process all the emotions that I feel without them meaning something is wrong. I am going to let myself feel all the feelings.
  • I anticipate there will be unforeseen problems and challenges that will come my way. I will navigate them as they arise. I believe it will be ok. I got this.

When we move abroad, we are presented with a huge range of emotions that overcome us. It is normal to feel grief, stress, overwhelm, and sadness.


Doing this work to cultivate your positive expat mindset doesn’t take away the challenges that we experience in our expat life. Instead, it helps you better navigate them. That’s what this is all about.

Keep doing the work, friends. It's well worth it. We promise.

If you need help as you navigate your upcoming move abroad, we are there for you!

 With over 20 years of expat experience and many moves under our belts, we can help you cultivate your positive, expat mindset, too. 

We’d love to hear from you.


Karly and Chloé are certified NLP and Ikigai coaches. Vibrant Ikigai offers bilingual workshops and 1:1 coaching services to help expat women thrive in their lives abroad.

Contact us today to set up your free discovery call !