In today’s world, self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. When we discuss mental health, it does not limit to clinical or psychological health. Mental health also incorporates our emotional and social well-being which affects our actions and thought process. It controls the ability to manage stress, relationships and decision making at each stage of our human life.
Living abroad is supposed to be a positive and exciting experience that supports exploring new cultures and places. However, it can turn into a negative experience due to cultural shock. Human societies have become more diverse which has helped in increasing the level of awareness regarding mental and physical struggles faced by expatriates during the transition abroad. There is still a lot to explore about the adaptation process and coping mechanisms for migrants.
Cultural shock is the most neglected effect of the transition to a new country that each individual experiences. It can happen while moving abroad or returning home after a long time abroad, or while moving to a different city or within the same country. Culture Shock is often considered as just being homesick but it is more than that and also associates with feeling anxious, stressed, uncertain, self-conscious or feeling isolated.
Dealing with culture shock after moving to an unknown place result in an extremely difficult transition phase. It involves a change in language, food habits, social expectations, and values. Most people witness a wide range of emotions and health issues such as headaches, allergies, irregular sleeping patterns, mood swings, depression, discomfort, loneliness, insecurity, anger, isolation, sadness and so on. These effects are very unpredictable and depend on the level of the support available for anyone.
With proper support and guidance, this transition can be turned into a completely positive experience. It is good to be aware of the changes and not ignoring these changes until it is too late. Understanding the various stages of cultural shock can help people to deal with their reality easily and taking action accordingly.
Kubler Ross gave a grief model, businesses have change models. Similarly, Culture Shock also has a model. All these models focus on one common aspect – Change.
Kalervo Oberg proposed his cultural adjustment model in 1954, at the Women’s Club of Rio-de-Janeiro, which consists of four main stages – Honeymoon, Negotiation, Adjustment, and Adaption. While individuals encounter these stages at various times in different ways or patterns, this model still offers valuable insights on how to understand these changes and adapt better to integrate into the new environment. The anxiety and stress that accompanies these changes can make it hard for an individual to stop feeling insecure and self-regulate. Self-regulation is a process of being patient, understanding one’s emotions and reacting based on their values and culture. It also provides strength to keep moving forward after a failure and avoiding stress under pressure.
How can technology help in this area?
Technology can offer an effective solution to support migrants around the world. It will be helpful to have a platform or tool that can investigate an individual’s emotional health based on the pre-defined set of questions. It can enable individuals to face the challenges appearing due to the transition.
Generation Mobility is developing a low-threshold model that enhances people’s ability to self-regulate when going through a transition, before or after moving abroad. Due to the fastmoving lifestyles of individuals, we can witness an increase in many online options that offer self-help or connect people with mental health professionals such as Talkspace, Headspace and so on, but how close are we to understand the culture shock model and hedge the risks associated with it at a personal and professional level?
Through Generation Mobility solutions, we want to see people thrive wherever they go in the world. These solutions are evidence-based, tailor-made, scalable, and flexible – all elements of the DNA that makes fast-growing, global businesses.
Generation Mobility offers intuitive, evidence-based, scalable solutions for global business growth!
“The goal is to make the transition as comfortable as possible and provide practical and reliable solutions that can be implemented daily. It only makes sense to use technology to take the mystery out of thriving while living in another country.” – Alicia Partee, CEO, and Co-founder at Generation Mobility AS.
Getting to know the new environment one step at a time is a great start towards something big. There are many ways to turn things around to start the adaptation process such as, networking by joining social groups with similar interests, volunteering, finding local organizations which offer help to expats, learning the language, being patient and open to the new culture while believing in the power of self.