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SW France Life Concerns


Your SW France life concerns are answered by Katie Gardner, a fully-qualified CBT Counsellor and 11-year expat based on the border of 47/24.

Katie Gardner


Paula S asks about her SW France life concern

I arrived here alone and have become caught up with a group and now can’t break free without risking upsetting them.  It’s stressing me out.

Hello Paula

When you say “caught up” with a group, presumably they originally helped you to integrate but now you have found your feet you are wanting to expand your contacts? That’s understandable but there’s no need for total exclusion is there?

Rather than extricating yourself completely from the original group, unless it is toxic of course (and then my answer would be completely different!), could you not gradually commit to fewer/less regular meet-ups? People grow apart naturally, particularly in the early stages of arrival here. It doesn’t need to be acrimonious or terminal but just part of the natural ebb and flow of all friendships; to be done gently and gracefully and taking into consideration the feelings of others, not just one’s own.

SW France Life Concerns

Expand your network of friends

SW France Life Concerns

Monitor your emotions


Johan G shares his SW France life concern

I would like to join a charitable organisation to help others but how do I keep my own feelings separate and not become involved?

Hi Johan

Working for any charitable organisation will, of course, involve a certain amount of emotional connection but you are absolutely right to be considering this before starting. So, firstly, I would advise setting yourself some boundaries before researching what’s out there, then stick to them!

Questions such as:

How many hours per week can you work? Take into account other commitments (leisure or otherwise) that you have and allow plenty of space for them; you can always increase your hours but it might be more difficult to decrease them.

When can you work those hours? Bear in mind any previous daytime/evening commitments i.e. visiting doctors/childcare.

Would you rather work with animals or people?

Do you prefer working alone or in a team?

The type of charity you volunteer for will have their own needs and requirements and your answers will help to narrow down which one is the most suitable for you both.

As for retaining sufficient emotional detachment to ensure your mental wellbeing isn’t threatened, there are these considerations:

Begin by not taking on too much, you will know pretty quickly whether you are suited for something or not.

Monitor yourself (your emotions and the physical input) on a regular basis, identifying anything that feels too draining. The easiest way to do this is either by keeping a daily diary describing what sort of day you have had or speaking to someone else involved in the same work.

Develop good relationships with those who are running the charity. This will help you feel supported and appreciated; which will go a long way towards your feeling positive about what you are achieving.



If you have a life concern that you would like to share, please write to Katie c/o

First published in the July/August 2019 issue of The Local Buzz

Images: Katie Gardner and Shutterstock