4 min5 November 2020

Emigration anxiety – how to cope with it

Starting a life in a new place always involves a lot of mental and physical effort. Getting used to the new environment means taking up many new challenges daily. The stress that an emigrant has to deal with is considerable… Many stress factors start during the trip. It happens that some people develop depressive states. That is why it is worth observing yourself and acting in such a way so you can help yourself in a difficult situation. ” – says Ewa Moczulska, psychologist and addiction psychotherapist.

What can cause stress connected with going abroad?

Getting used to the new environment means taking up many new challenges daily. The stress that an emigrant has to deal with is considerable. They communicate in a foreign language, are far from their family, do not have a support group or do not work in their profession. It is hard. In addition, the situation in the country he has left is often uncertain, which creates an additional emotional burden.

Therefore, if a person has not dealt with stress well before leaving, it may be even more difficult for them abroad. In addition, in a foreign country, most of the time we are surrounded by people who grew up in a different culture, speak a different language and have different habits. So when the first fascination with a new country passes and when the first real problems appear, then emotions such as sadness, a sense of resignation, apathy, aversion may appear (although they do not have to), that simply put – can get a man down. Most often, until we go abroad, we don’t realize how close we are to our homeland and how much we need a relationship with family or friends. And what a comfort it is to live close to the culture, customs and language we understand well.

Many people suffer from separation from loved ones and loneliness – is there a cure for this?

Yes, loneliness is a common problem abroad and a very broad topic. The feeling of loneliness often intensifies when we stay in conditions that force artificial and shallow relationships with other people. Loneliness can be felt even more when we do not feel that we are important to someone and we cannot confide our personal experiences to anyone.

Situations of this kind occur everywhere, of course, but living abroad they can be felt in a different way. It is certainly easier to cope with loneliness if you come with your closest family or friends, but still most of your friends or extended family stay in the country. The cure for loneliness, in a very simplified way, is interacting with other people: meetings, phone calls or video conferences. We should remember that conscious isolation from the environment, lack of contact with the family, as well as the lack of knowledge of the language and reluctance to learn about a foreign culture, can deepen the feeling of isolation, so it is worth preventing it.

If we don’t know a foreign language, we do not know anyone on the spot, we may feel isolated. Is isolation dangerous?

Of course, the language barrier may also be a psychological threat related to emigration. It is  what can significantly hamper new relationships and functioning in a new place. Complete lack of knowledge of the language can make it difficult to establish relationships with others. As a result, we begin to perceive people as strangers and even hostile. Alienation and a sense of abandonment are common grounds for the loneliness mentioned above, which can lead to problems. Isolation, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and other addictions are just some of the serious problems faced by many people living abroad… They are often based on alienation and loneliness.

How to deal with stress living abroad?

In order not to give into depression, it is worth being aware of how going abroad looks like. I recommend reading about a given country, and if there is such a possibility, it is worth going to the place before you move there. See the city from different sides – yes, even the “ugly” ones. It is worth finding out more about the culture, language and mentality of the inhabitants of a given country and consider whether it will be easy to enter a foreign society and understand the people there.

It is also worth realizing that when you go abroad, you go through different phases. Some react with enthusiasm at first and then there is a drop in mood; others negate everything first, and enthusiasm slowly emerges. Regardless of which group you are in, be prepared to feel nostalgic. There is nothing wrong with it, it is completely natural. I recommend you to allow yourself some recurring nostalgia. It is completely natural that we may sometimes feel worse in the new reality. It takes time to adapt to the realities of living abroad, a temporary depressed mood is not a bad thing yet.

When your mood is lowering and nostalgia and sadness appears, it’s a good idea to find something that will distract you from your black thoughts. These can be very simple things or activities such as cooking, reading or being active. It is worth looking for compatriots with similar interests in order not to feel isolated abroad.

We would like to thank the psychologist Ewa Moczulska, the co-founder of the psychological center “Zmiana na Lepsze” in Zielona Góra, for the interview.


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