Paralysed by overwhelm

How to cope with overwhelm during an international relocation

Overwhelmed in many ways

It’s been just over a week since we heard about our sudden and unexpected relocation to South Africa and, I admit, my mind has been all over the place since we got the news.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy about this move, but it comes in the midst of another major upheaval in our family life, and at times I’ve not known which way to turn.

My darling daughter is starting at her new boarding school in the UK in just under four weeks. She leaves her school here on Friday for the Easter holidays. Emotions aside (and there are many), there is a huge amount of work I have to do before her start date: mainly buying clothes and equipment and labelling everything.

Thank you!

Before we were hit with the moving-to-Africa bombshell, I asked my lovely community of fellow expats for some guest posts to help tide me over during the Easter holidays. These have started coming in by email and it’s such a relief to have one major part of my life – this site – taken care of in this way. It’s become even more important to me now to have such great content coming in as I have even less time now to research and write my own.

This is the fantastic part of overwhelm! I am overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity of time. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to you for your contributions. It leaves me free to focus on formatting them into the site and publishing over this crazy period when I don’t have time to do much else.

To-do or not to-do? That is the question.

My to-do list is almost overwhelming during ‘normal’ life – it’s actually two books and countless scraps of paper; I’m not kidding. However, I started Bullet Journaling a while back and this has helped immensely with organising myself and my to do lists.

However, now this is not normal life and my to-do list has grown out of all recognition. It’s paralysed me and I’ve been completely unable to do anything much at all. My mind has been flitting everywhere yet not settling on anything.

How to cope with overwhelm

I’ve decided the only way to cope with the next few weeks is to focus on facts and priorities, and what I can deal with on a day to day basis. I’m only concentrating on what is a fact, not speculation, and prioritising on that basis. So, in order of priority:

  1. Spend time with my daughter: This doesn’t need an explanation. While she’s still here, I want to spend time with her making memories.
  2. Daughter’s schooling: Label all the items we’ve already got. Sort out all the paperwork and write a shopping list for school kit still to buy. Buy said items.
  3. This website: Keep this site ticking over by scheduling and publishing your generous guest posts with the occasional contribution by me as and when I can.
  4. Storage in the UK: We’re still travelling with items that have remained in boxes since we first left Britain in 2006! It’s time to rationalise our stuff and put some into storage and donate or dispose of the rest. I tackled the kitchen in a rare moment of clarity last week. There’s much more to do.
  5. Travel to the UK: Plan and pack for our trip to the UK. Including all the items for storage.

And that is ‘all’ I am going to attempt to do over the next two weeks.

We’re no closer to finding out when we leave Berlin; every day last week my husband came home with a different head-spinning scenario.

Hopefully when I get back from our trip everything will be a little clearer and, with daughter safely installed at her school, I can move forward with everything else.

Expatability Chat Podcast

If you’d prefer to listen to me talk about this topic, here are a couple of my podcast episodes about the Big Overwhelm!

Overcome Overwhelm

Expats and emotional overwhelm: when everything just gets too much

Need to talk 1-1 about your move and life overseas with someone who 'gets it'? Consider me your own, personal expat expert! I'm here for you.

Your one-stop-shop for a successful life abroad

Expatability Club

An expat community and advice hub where you’ll never feel alone or unsupported. With an Expat Expert in your pocket for real-time support.

Let's stay in touch!

Subscribe to my newsletter and be first to hear news and updates from Carole.

By subscribing you also agree to receive marketing emails from Carole Hallett Mobbs. You can opt-out of these emails at any time. My full privacy policy can be seen here: Privacy Policy

  1. My, that IS a lot of upheaval to deal with at once! You’re right to prioritize your relationships above all, filter out the stuff that will wait and then figure out the order of the rest. Lots to keep you busy in the days ahead – take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you. As usual, nothing’s going to plan but I’ll do my best to keep on top of everything.

  2. I wish you all the best! You’re having so many changes to go through in the next weeks and they are all energy consuming (emotionally and physically). I know this paralizing feeling, it’s awful. Taking a step back, in order to see the full picture and pick out the things that really are important now, are the best thing to do, and you’ve done it with the great priority list. I wish you all the strength (in NL we would say “sterkte”) for the next days and enjoy the time with your daughter.

    1. Thank you, Ute. I really appreciate your kind thoughts.
      A good night’s sleep makes the world of difference and I’m feeling more on top of things today – so far!

  3. I wish you all the best luck and good vibes! I know perfectly well what its like. Having to deal with 7 years worth of stuff and figuring out how to pack “as minimally as possible” and include our unborn baby. Your daughter will be happy to help I´m sure and she will have a new place to visit when the holidays come around. hugs!!!

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Want some personalised advice?

Find out how I can help you make your expat life a success!