Living abroad as an expat can be a life-changing amazing experience. It can be filled with wonder and awe, travel and living in exotic countries, new job opportunities, cultures and people. However, expat life also brings with it its own set of unique challenges.
In fact, according to numerous studies, many expats face stress and anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and loneliness. Sometimes, the expat life can take on a go-go-go mindset where one might prioritize productivity, and put aside their self-care and efficient management of their emotions and feelings.
As we all know, another huge challenge for expats over the last two years has been the ongoing pandemic where expats have been forced to be away from family, kept isolated in their homes, and often alone by themselves.
For many expats, the constant worry about something happening to their family members while they’re on another continent and too far away to provide help if needed has just been too much to bear, and as a result has greatly affected their mental health.
One thing that is important to note - expats do not have psychological afflictions different from the rest of the population, however lots of other factors can pile on to influence their mental health, and they can often have difficulty finding help in their native language which can prevent them from seeking the psychological support they would have had at home.
In addition, professional representations also come into play. When you become an expat for professional reasons, it can create a lot of extra stress due to meeting projected expectations that require excellent performance and great commitment. Whether it’s to work in a large multinational company, humanitarian organization or carry out an internship, moving abroad is generally perceived as a great professional investment and life opportunity. Admitting you have difficulties is complicated if you don’t know where to turn for help, and can be hard to accept if things become emotionally unmanageable.
Another side of emotional distress for expats can come from social isolation during the time it takes to build up social circles and have friends. Or perhaps they struggle as the trailing spouse with trying to find their sense of identity and create a life for themselves. Some expats move to be with partners, and some separate shortly thereafter.
What is EFT tapping?
The Emotional Freedom Technique consists of tapping acupuncture points that are found along the face and in some points of the body. It begins with identifying the feeling or emotion of a situation, person, memory, or even a physical symptom. There are sets of statements, negative rounds, and finally, positive rounds to replace the negative feelings, ideas, or beliefs with more positive and helpful ones to regulate the emotions.
At the beginning, the person takes a rating of the intensity of the feeling, belief, memory, situation, etc., and as the different points are tapped, the sensation / emotion / symptom begins to diminish during the rounds until it disappears. Depending on what the issue is, it can take only one tapping session to feel better. For more stubborn ideas or core limiting beliefs, EFT tapping needs to become a habit that addresses the issue over time.
The belief or deeper work is a bit like an "onion": you need to peel back the different layers. Some beliefs are tied to people, situations, times in your life, and these events, people etc. need to be tapped on separately to get to the core root of the belief, perhaps heal, and change it. For emotional situations, such as stress and anxiety, or even panic attacks, EFT tapping can be extremely helpful.
Does EFT tapping work?
According to studies like this one, yes, and the results of tapping can be immediate and long-lasting. There are plenty of articles online about EFT tapping where you can read about the benefits or scientific studies on a variety of issues.
The end result is to feel more stable emotionally, have a tool you can use on your own to manage your emotions on a daily basis, or with an EFT practitioner to resolve past and current issues, to have more confidence in yourself and confront limiting beliefs.
10 benefits of EFT tapping
- Releases depression, stress and apathy, anxiety, nervousness
- Treat low self-esteem, fears, self-sabotage
- Limiting beliefs (not feeling good enough)
- Treat allergies, headaches and physical pains
- Unleash guilt, anger, frustration, and resentment
- Release emotional pain and fears, depression
- Calm down in negative situations
- Works for many things when other things haven’t
- It is a method similar to acupuncture, but without needles
To put it very simply, tapping is based on the premise that many problems, whatever their type, are rooted in an energy imbalance within the person who suffers them. And yet it works, as you can read on various sites about mental health and therapy. You can read more about the benefits and the effects of EFT tapping here.
The goal of EFT tapping is simply to remove this imbalance as acupuncture does, and it does this by gently tapping certain points on the body.
How Does Tapping Work?
With EFT, you have the chance to reframe feelings and beliefs about situations and you can also deal with limiting beliefs to create a more positive mindset and rewire your brain for success.
The idea of EFT tapping is to honestly articulate the problem and bring it to the surface, and then clear it layer by layer. In this sense, saying the phrase that describes it is the way to bring out the problem, and tapping it eliminates the intensity of the negativity behind it before replacing the negative thought with positive affirmations to shift the mindset into something more helpful.
At first this idea is a bit surprising and does sound a bit weird, because positive thinking has become a buzzword lately and everyone has a solution. Well, positive thinking is fine, and it works too, but in a tapping session the opposite happens: the problem is named to bring it up to the surface so that it can be eliminated and processed, accomplishing a new inner balance and a calmer state of mind. There are many studies on the efficacy of EFT tapping and it’s finally making its way into the mainstream as seen on Oprah, the Today Show, and many other places.
For expats, having another tool to manage emotions is even more important and by learning this simple technique they can go deeper into the problem with a qualified EFT practitioner.
Are you interested in trying EFT tapping?
Andrea Hunt is a transformational life coach and EFT practitioner who does both 1 to 1 sessions with clients and also group sessions with Trova Health.
There are many benefits to EFT and it can be used on a variety of issues. Try out a group session and see for yourself - most respondents have overwhelmingly positive results even the first time.
** Disclaimer: even though EFT tapping is shown to have extremely positive results when it comes to trauma and PTSD, Andrea Hunt is not a licensed therapist and does not work with these issues. If you’re currently undergoing psychiatric care or therapy for trauma please check to see if participation is right for you. There are many situations where people who are dealing with more serious emotional issues can still benefit from EFT for stress and anxiety or limiting beliefs without addressing the trauma directly. It can be extremely helpful but nevertheless, it’s important to check with your therapist.