Packing your mental health toolkit

When it comes to expat life and your mental well-being, consider your weekly schedule and make sure you have everything you need in terms of self-care.

Emotional challenges

Many people describe expat life as an adventure – and it can be. But relocating to a foreign country and adjusting to a new culture isn’t all fun and games. After the honeymoon phase there will be a dip. Even when we feel like we have ‘adjusted’, we can experience anxiety, a sense of loneliness or loss. Indeed, at any stage of our expat life, our emotions can be challenged in ways that are hard to anticipate. A single instance of culture clash could throw you into a tailspin. Out of the blue you might suddenly be overcome with homesickness.

Best practices

Week to week, make sure you are doing all the little things you need to bolster your mental health. If you are fond of lists, write out what you want to have in your weekly routine. For example, regular exercise/meditation, healthy meals, socialisation, quality time with your partner / family, intellectual / creative stimulation, a walk through nature, a video call with friends / family back home.

A busy bee

Even if you’re not working, it’s good to keep busy and accomplishing tasks can perk your mood up. Go at your pace. You don’t have to do everything today or tomorrow. Also, are there any unhelpful habits which can be cut or curtailed? For example, limiting your intake of social media. For some of you, doom-scrolling through negative content (toxic tweets, fake news, etc) might bring you down. Others might start to feel blue when seeing friends back home having fun in all those familiar places that you miss.

Staying social

It might sound obvious but make connections to match your interests and/ or goals. If you’re sporty, find a team. If you’re into yoga, there are always others (no matter where you are). If you want to learn the local language, or learn how to paint, join a class. Staying social while pursuing an activity that helps you feel fulfilled is a magical combination.

Consider a life coach

If you find yourself in a situation that affects your identity, self-esteem or your relationships in ways you hadn’t expected, a life coach can help you regain your footing and rediscover your sense of self. A life coach is not a psychologist or therapist. But they can help you determine where you want to be, and how to get there.

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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