Living abroad can be exciting for many, but it can also come with stress and nervousness. At AXA, our recent Mind Health research found that the pandemic has been the biggest source of stress for expats over the past year, with lockdowns impacting freedoms and the subsequent economic and political consequences.
More than half (59%) of expats reported a stress level of 6 or above out of 10 over the last 12 months, compared to 55% of local nationals. Looking closer at the data, the number of stressed respondents was alarmingly high, especially in countries such as Hong Kong (54%), Ireland (52%), UK and Italy (51%), and China (50%).
It is normal – and even healthy - to feel a little stressed. But if it gets out of control, stress can be a stepping stone to more severe mental health conditions. So, it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress to help prevent getting into unhealthy coping habits.
Identifying where your stress comes from and what type of stress you’re suffering from is an important part of the process. The four main types of stress are:
- Acute stress: Acute stress is a very short-term type of stress that can either be positive or more distressing; this is the type of stress we most often encounter in day-to-day life.
- Chronic stress: Chronic stress is stress that seems never-ending and inescapable, like the stress of an extremely taxing job. It can also stem from distressing experiences and childhood trauma.
- Episodic acute stress: Episodic acute stress is acute stress that seems to run rampant and be a way of life, creating a life of ongoing distress.
- Eustress: Eustress is fun and exciting - a positive type of stress that can keep you energised. It's associated with surges of adrenaline, such as meeting deadlines or doing something thrilling.
It’s important to remember that stress comes with symptoms, just like an illness. Being able to recognise those symptoms can help you take care of them. There are three main ways that stress might manifest itself in your body: