Emotional resilience in expat life: Engendering ER in expats - Part 2

This is the second part of the fourth in a five-article series by Contributor Linda A. Janssen, who is working on a book about emotional resilience and its importance in expat life.

How to build emotional resilience

Briefly, these actions we can take to help enhance our level of emotional resilience fall into four general categories:


This covers a wide range of personal interactions in which we learn to feel safe sharing our feelings, thoughts, concerns and needs. It is accurately identifying and naming our emotions, and employing self-calming techniques to quiet negative self-beliefs and decrease personal distress when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us.

It includes sending (and picking up on) the signals that we or someone we care about is disoriented, confused, having difficulty with transitions. It is being "heard." This can be done verbally, in writing, wordlessly sharing an experience together or other forms of interaction. We let people "know" who we are, and they us.


In our relationship with ourselves, our family, friends and the outside world, we all need to feel wanted, valued and loved. We reach out to others, building friendships on an individual or collective basis. We develop and celebrate rituals reflecting what matters to us, and to honour our memories and ourselves. We focus on empathy, and understanding how others are feeling.


Whether "seeing" a way to get through a tough day, find a more productive state of mind or develop a better life situation, visualisation can take many forms. These include imagining improvement, reviewing past behaviour to determine best courses of action, writing, keeping a journal, even talking our way through challenges. 

If you expect good results, you will open yourself to being more receptive to ways that help make them happen. I would also include self-care, stress management or relaxation techniques, prayer and learning to resolve conflict in a positive manner in this category.


In addition to the narrower definition of a tendency to take a more hopeful or positive view, this also refers to a broader definition that is actively future-oriented. It includes finding meaning, setting goals, taking action, conveying gratitude, maintaining perspective, discovering hope and incorporating humour in our lives. Laughter not only helps us feel physically better, it also makes us more attractive to be around thereby improving our interactions with others.

Previous in the series

Identity & the expat
 Transition & Change
 Emotional & Social intelligence and optimism
› Engendering ER in expats - Part 1

Next in the series

 Part V: "Factors" for the emotionally resilient expat

Linda A. Janssen


Linda A. Janssen

Writer, author & expat living abroad and sharing the good, the less good and the just plain odd. I chronicle making a new life in NL. Always finding the upside...

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