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Posts Categorised: Change & life adjustment

This month Maria contributes to the Expat Living article entitled “We All Have Issues.. What helps and who can you talk to?”

Maria discusses Counselling for Expats:

As an expatriate, you may be more likely to need counselling than someone who stays put in their home town, surrounded by the support of long-time friends and family, confirms MARIA LUEDEKE of Aspire Counselling. She herself uses a collaborative approach, she says, to help her clients develop self-efficacy, resilience and self-empowerment through their innate strength and abilities.

“Expats are in a constant state of transition and adaptation as we are continually moving in and out of each other’s lives, changing social groups and establishing different norms,” she says. While this can be exciting, continuous change in the absence of traditional support structures can make expats more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, creating distressful situations and triggering mental issues.

Some Danger Areas

  • Worries about ageing parents are intensified when thousands of miles separate us from them; the same goes for our own adult children who may be going through difficult times. 
  • A sense of impermanence and instability can arise from the unpredictability of expat assignments. “Expecting to stay only for two or three years, they simply exist in their adopted home, instead of fully investing in it and creating meaningful connections,” explains Maria. Anxiety about the future can make us reluctant to engage with others, so we end up isolated and depressed. 
  • Pressure to perform can lead to excessive stress, especially for high-achieving expats whose companies have brought them here for their valuable skills. As a result, they sometimes neglect themselves and their families, or turn to problematic coping mechanisms such as drinking, drugs or unhealthy relationships. “People may act in ways they would never consider acting in their home country, as they feel a sense of anonymity and entitlement.” 
  • Family structures can be strained by school changes, work changes, social changes and extended separations between parents and children and spouses, be they for work or leisure. Be aware, too, of the possible consequence of replacing parental supervision with that of domestic helpers. 
  • Marital issues can develop or worsen as you adapt to new environments, new roles and different cultural expectations. Long hours, excessive travel, the frustrations inherent in setting up life in a new country, and perhaps the loss of a former career, can lead to loneliness, to temptation, to anger and to resentment.

Seeking Help

It’s commonplace for expats to ask one another for referrals to dentists, hairdressers, tutors and such – “but there is still a degree of taboo when it comes to asking for the name of a good mental health practitioner,” says Maria.

“Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health and share information and knowledge,” she urges, and don’t suffer in silence. “Reaching out for help – be it face-to-face counselling or video-conference-based online counselling – can make all the difference in successfully navigating the challenges of expat life.”

Working with Aspire Counselling

If something in the above article resonates with you and you or someone you know needs support at this time then Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling is ideally placed to help.  As a seasoned expat, mother and highly trained Psychotherapist Maria will be able to relate to what you are feeling and help you understand the next steps you should take.   You can instantly book an appointment with Maria online today using our booking page or by contacting Maria via our contact page.

You can read the full article from Expat Living Singapore at:

 

The photo and words used in this post are reproduced from the content of the article that appeared originally in Expat Living Singapore

Life was never intended to be an incomplete difficult jigsaw.

Although it sometimes feels just like that. A little extra help can be useful when you are needing to find direction in your life or to put the pieces of a puzzle together.

By talking about what you are experiencing to an experienced Psychotherapist you can often find the clarity you need and find your own way forward. At Aspire Counselling we focus on helping you realise your goals and living an empowered, fulfilled life.

Book an appointment online today at https://aspirecounselling.net or call 656570 2781, email  marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

Life as an expat, trailing spouse in Singapore isn’t what you expected?

Many of us have heard the terms expat wife and trailing spouse. But what are the unique challenges faced these people. And when difficulties arise, what can you do about it?

Trailing spouse is a term coined to describe the spouse or partner of someone who relocates for work away from their home base. Sometimes a couple or a whole family move overseas. The trailing spouse can be a wife or female partner, or even a man.

Relocation brings with it a change of culture, distance from friends and family, and new beginnings.  New friends, new food, new opportunities, but often also new stresses and challenges.

Many have been through this process, and many have had an amazing successful journey. But, many have found it challenging. How people deal with the challenges faced can define whether the posting overseas is a successful or negative one.

A new expat life full of hope

When starting the relocation journey, there is usually hope and optimism. There may be reservations, but the exotic location, career benefits, high salary etc. win over.  Moving tends to go well at first as employers cater for our every need. First or Business class flights for the family, hotels and service apartments all help to keep us distracted whilst settling. The luxury of the new surroundings and exploring the new location, it can seem idyllic at first. New places to eat and drink, or even the distraction of helping the kids settle in their new home and school. Reality can take a while to sink in.

Dealing with the change associated with expat life

For some, the move may take place without any real consideration as to how the change will affect their own and children’s lives. For a while, you might not even notice or understand how it is affecting you. Expats can be surprised when things settle down and the excitement of the move is replaced by normality. Normality that may be accompanied by disappointment and emotions that weren’t expected.

Spouses may at times just follow their partner, taking a passive role and becoming increasingly dependent in the process.  For others, the new surroundings can be intimidating, leading to them cutting themselves off, preferring instead to hide away and stay at home. There can also be challenges establishing one’s own identity in the new place. In too many cases, infidelity can rear its head, leading to disappointment, distance and even separation. When infidelity occurs, trailing spouses can be left debating the pros and cons of putting up with it, or returning home. Never an easy choice. Worse still if children are part of the expat scenario.

And for many, there comes a sense of grief.  Even if one enjoys the new life, there can be a very real sense of loss associated with the move.  Leaving behind family, friends, familiar situations etc. can be difficult.

Learning how to manage the changes in your life

Despite the challenges of life as a trailing or expat spouse, it is very possible to have a fulfilling and successful life.  Achieving your goals and dreams should not be put on hold whilst you live overseas.

Self-care, keeping occupied in a fulfiling way, finding work, making friends, exercising regularly, eating well, moderating alcohol intake, learning the local language(s), study etc.  These are all techniques that can help with finding identity and fulfilment in the new home.

Sometimes the difference between success and failure will come down to how you manage the change. It can also depend upon how you maintain your own identity. You may find that this is something you can’t do alone. You should not be afraid to discuss this and ask for help when necessary. You’ll find that you are not alone, and many have, or have had similar feelings and learnt how to manage them.

You are not alone – finding help

If you recognise yourself, then you may benefit from talking to someone who is professionally trained and experienced at handling such scenarios.

With professional support for you and/or your partner achieving your goals is a real possibility. Professional support can also help you find your own identity. It can help you decide for yourself what decisions you should make and discover what changes in your life will help you get what you need. Professional support can also teach you techniques to help you cope and manage how you feel.

If you are in need of help as an individual, couple or family, and wish to discuss this further then you may wish to book an appointment with Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling.

Maria Luedeke is a highly qualified counsellor who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to trailing spouses and expats in Singapore, as well as working with relationship and marital issues.

Contact Aspire Counselling today and book an appointment with Maria either through our website http://aspirecounselling.net or by emailing marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

http://aspirecounselling.net

#expat #expatlife #trailingspouse #depression #relationships #relationshipissues #aspirecounselling #singapore

Featured in Expat Living – January 2017

Aspire Counselling is featured in Expat Living Singapore, published 11th January 2017, read Maria’s thoughts on Cultural identify crisis and marital issues affecting expats

Read the full article at http://www.expatliving.sg/counselling-singapore-issues-exp…/

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Cultural identity crisis

Moving into an unknown culture can be a confusing, stressful and frustrating experience for both adults and children as they are suddenly made to adapt to a new way of life or set of values. Being far away from home and without family support can also create stresses of their own. Culture shock can cause symptoms like extreme homesickness, an abnormal change in appetite and depression.

Treatment options:

You can attend individual, couple or family therapy where counsellors can help you develop coping strategies for cultural adjustment issues. They can also assist you with any other underlying or coexisting issues such as marital strain or mood disorders.

Marital issues

Issues in a marriage can develop or become more pronounced during cultural adjustment periods. Both partners are experiencing high levels of stress as they get accustomed to the new environment, roles, cultural expectations and jobs. Excessive travel, loss of former careers and long work hours can add to daily frustrations of beginning a new life, creating temptation, loneliness, resentment and sparking arguments between spouses.

Treatment options:

You can go for individual or couple counselling sessions where counsellors can provide a framework for you to work through difficulties.

Aspire Counselling

1 Tanglin Road, Orchard Parade Hotel, #03-03
6570 2781 | aspirecounselling.net

Find out more about how Aspire Counselling can help under these circumstances at http://aspirecounselling.net or by calling 6570 2781

Life is not always easy, in fact it often feels as challenging as having to walk a tightrope to get to where we want to go. We all have goals and dreams, but how we respond and how well prepared we are for when the going gets tough defines whether or not we achieve those goals.

Often we may even feel that we don’t have any other choice but to give up. We end up feeling stressed, even depressed or suffering from anxiety when things don’t quite go as expected.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Resilience and empowerment

It is possible to develop a resilience that will help you achieve your goals and reach fulfilment. Part of this involves learning and implementing techniques that will empower you to get yourself through the more difficult days and continue driving towards your goals.

If you are prepared and believe that you can get the best from yourself then you will be more likely to have the resolve to keep moving forward. To find out how you can be empowered to stand up to the challenges that life may put in your way, then Aspire Counselling would be happy to help you.  Psychology and counselling are not something to shy away from, in fact they can be key to empowering you.  Our therapies include Choice Theory Reality Therapy (CTRT), Lead Management, Mindfulness, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

You can also visit our website to book an online or face to face session with us. http://aspirecounselling.net

Contact Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net or call 6570 2781 to find out more about our services for men, women, adolescents, couples, families and corporates.

Even the best jobs can lead to burnout. The harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it is to get in over your head.

The following article appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, and was written by Dr Travis Bradbury.  The image shown accompanied the original article and is from Getty.

The prevalence of burnout is increasing as technology further blurs the line between work and home. New research from the American Psychological Association and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reported the following:

  • 48% of Americans experienced increased stress over the past 5 years
  • 31% of employed adults have difficulty managing their work and family responsibilities
  • 53% say work leaves them “overtired and overwhelmed.”

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll found that “burnout from my current job” was one of the top reasons that people quit.

Burnout can get the better of you, even when you have great passion for your work. Arianna Huffington experienced this first hand when she almost lost an eye from burnout. She was so tired at work that she passed out, hitting her face on her desk. She broke her cheek bone and had to get four stitches on her eye.

“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.”   –Arianna Huffington

Burnout often results from a misalignment of input and output; you get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself.

Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to recognize the warning signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to take action. Here they are, in no particular order.

Health problems. Burnout has a massive, negative impact upon your physical and mental health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, heart disease, obesity, or you’re just getting sick a lot, you need to consider the role your work is playing in this. You’ll know when burnout is affecting your health, and you’ll just have to decide whether your approach to work is worth the consequences.

Cognitive difficulties. Research shows that stress hammers the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and focus. When you notice that you’re making silly mistakes, forgetting important things, having outbursts of emotion, or making poor decisions, you’re likely burning out.

Difficulty with work and personal relationships. Stress bleeds over into everything you do, particularly how you interact with people. Even when you feel that you’re keeping your stress under control at work, it can rear its ugly head at home. Often it’s your relationships that suffer. Stress makes many people more likely to snap at others, lose their cool, and get involved in silly, unnecessary conflicts. Others are more inclined to withdraw and avoid people they care about.

Taking your work home with you. You know that sickening feeling when you’re lying in bed thinking about all the work that you didn’t get done and hoping that you didn’t miss something important? When you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re at home, it’s a strong sign that you’re burning out.

Fatigue. Burnout often leads to exhaustion because of the toll stress takes on your mind and body. The hallmarks of burnout fatigue are waking up with no energy after a good night’s sleep, drinking large amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, or having trouble staying awake at work.

Negativity. Burnout can turn you very negative, even when you’re usually a positive person. If you find yourself focusing on the down side of situations, judging others and feeling cynical, it’s clear that negativity has taken hold and it’s time for you to do something about it.

Decreased satisfaction. Burnout almost always leads to a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Projects and people that used to get you excited no longer do so. This dip in satisfaction makes work very difficult, because no matter what you’re putting into your job, you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of it.

Losing your motivation. We begin jobs in a honeymoon phase, seeing everything through rose-colored glasses. When you’re in this phase, motivation comes naturally. In a burnout state, you struggle to find the motivation to get the job done. You may complete tasks, and even complete them well, but the motivation that used to drive you is gone. Instead of doing work for the sake of the work itself, your motivation stems from fear—of missing deadlines, letting people down, or getting fired.

Performance issues. People who burn out are often high achievers, so when their performance begins to slip, others don’t always notice. It’s crucial to monitor your slippage. How were you performing a month ago? Six months ago? A year ago? If you see a dip in your performance, it’s time to determine if burnout is behind it.

Poor self-care. Life is a constant struggle against the things that feel good momentarily but aren’t good for you. When you experience burnout, your self-control wanes and you find yourself succumbing to temptations more easily. This is largely due to the way that stress compromises your decision-making and self-control and also partially due to lower levels of confidence and motivation.

Fighting Burnout

If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, don’t worry. Fighting burnout is a simple matter of self-care. You need good ways to separate yourself from your work so that you can recharge and find balance. The following will help you to accomplish this.

Disconnect. Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy on this list, because if you can’t find time to remove yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire evening or weekend off from handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times to check in on emails and respond to voicemails. For example, on weekday evenings, you may check emails after dinner, and on the weekend you may check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are playing sports. Scheduling such short blocks of time alleviates stress without sacrificing your availability.

Pay attention to your body signals. It’s easy to think that a headache is the result of dehydration, that a stomachache is the result of something you ate, and that an aching neck is from sleeping on it wrong, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, aches and pains are an accumulation of stress and anxiety. Burnout manifests in your body, so learn to pay attention to your body’s signals so that you can nip burnout in the bud. Your body is always talking, but you have to listen.

Schedule relaxation. It’s just as important to plan out your relaxation time as it is to plan out when you work. Even scheduling something as simple as “read for 30 minutes” benefits you greatly. Scheduling relaxing activities makes certain they happen as well as gives you something to look forward to.

Stay away from sleeping pills. When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so that you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol, Nyquil, Benadryl, Valium, Ambien, or what have you, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Have you ever noticed that sedatives can give you some really strange dreams? As you sleep and your brain removes harmful toxins, it cycles through an elaborate series of stages, at times shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams). Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process. Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep, and you need adequate, quality sleep to avoid burnout.

Get organized. Much of the stress we experience on a daily basis doesn’t stem from having too much work; it stems from being too disorganized to handle the work effectively. When you take the time to get organized, the load feels much more manageable.

Take regular breaks during the workday. Physiologically, we work best in spurts of an hour to an hour and a half, followed by 15-minute breaks. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity and fatigued yourself unnecessarily in the process. Keeping to a schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive.

Lean on your support system. It’s tempting to withdraw from other people when you’re feeling stressed, but they can be powerful allies in the war against burnout. Sympathetic family and friends are capable of helping you. Spending time with people who care about you helps you to remove yourself from the stresses of work and reminds you to live a little and have fun.

Bringing It All Together

If these strategies don’t work for you, then the problem might be your job. The wrong job can cause burnout in and of itself. In that case you’ll have to decide what’s more important: your work or your health.

How do you beat burnout? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

If you’d like to learn how to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ), consider taking the online Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® test that’s included with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book. Your test results will pinpoint which of the book’s 66 emotional intelligence strategies will increase your EQ the most.

No matter who we are, or where we were born, each of us has an absolute right to a fulfilled life, and to achieve our goals. An equal right to a life without prejudice and constraint. Those who have, or have had mental health disorders have just the same rights.

During the course of their lifetime, many will face challenges. In fact so many will encounter mental health disorders at some point in their lives, that is should be treated as being normal. Normal as in, it can happen to anyone. Normal as in, it will likely affect about 25% of the population at one point or another in their lives. Being as “normal” as it is, it is important that those affected can achieve their goals and live their lives in a fulfilled way.

If you or someone you know is affected by a mental health issue, do seek help. With the correct guidance, it is possible learn to overcome the obstacles that appear to be in the way. By addressing the root causes, and learning how to cope with and manage what is affecting you, you can be empowered to achieve what you want to achieve.

Aspire Counselling – book an online or face-to-face counselling session, and get instant confirmation of your appointment at https://aspirecounselling.net

For further details email info@aspirecounselling.net or call 65 6570 2781

“I really struggled to get out of bed today. Did you?

I didn’t get up until noon. It was the same yesterday. Then I was hard on myself for it and as a result, I had a miserable day.  Today, the same happened, but I decided to be kind to myself. The difference? I gave myself a break and refused to feel guilty or bad about it. Today I’m happier, smiling even, working and I believe that tomorrow will be easier. And if it’s not I’ll try again. I need to be kind to myself.”

These are the words of a sufferer of Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and ADHD.  Many will be able to relate to them. No one says you should feel bad if you can’t live a perfect, happy life every single day. Let’s be realistic we all have our off-days. Be kind to yourself instead of getting more upset with yourself when you aren’t feeling at your best. Self-compassion is a useful way to help you get through your day.

Do seek help if you or someone you know needs help to learn coping techniques and strategies for days when not feeling at your best. If you can’t get out or bed, like the writer, it might be a sign that something isn’t quite right, or you are avoiding something. Aspire Counselling has a range of techniques that it can teach you to help you with your life. We do these in ways that will allow it to become habitual for you, so you won’t be dependent upon us. You will learn to manage your own life successfully.  You’ll find these techniques useful in everyday life too.

For details on our Counselling and Psychotherapy services, email Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net, call us on  6570 2781 or visit our website where you can book online face-to-face or video counselling sessions.  https://www.aspirecounselling.net

Young people have never been so bombarded by pressure to look or live their lives a certain way.

Relationships and contact with others are vital to a fulfilling life.  Social media is one of many mechanisms that can help foster and maintain strong relationships. However, for some, it can be a factor in increased levels of unhappiness. It can if left unchecked sometimes lead to identity, self esteem and confidence issues, depression, anxiety and child behavioural issues amongst others.

For the main part, kids used to only have to deal with peer pressure or bullying at school, and when out with friends. When they were at home, they were reasonably cushioned from the outside world. However, in today’s constantly connected social media focused world it can be a 24/7 onslaught reading and now watching live the lives of friends and millions of unknown people.

Young people can also be unlucky enough not just to suffer bullying from “friends”, but also abuse from those unknown to them. In such situations the pressure to keep checking what is happening, and digest the latest comments can be overwhelming.

When it occurs, the unhappiness if left undiscussed and unchecked can lead to mental wellness challenges now or later in life.

Every young person has the right to feel supported and confident about their future. If you, someone you know or are responsible for is suffering, effective help and support are available both for individuals and families.  At Aspire Counselling we can provide help to improve a young person’s resilience, boost their confidence, and tackle the consequences of any bullying being experienced. We do this in a way, that allows an empowered young person, and their families if necessary,  to learn how to manage current and future challenges.

Aspire Counselling – Counselling and Therapy in Singapore – Book a face to face or online video counselling appointment with Maria Luedeke at https://www.aspirecounselling.net

#selfesteem #socialmedia #children