Here are five mental health tips for expats abroad
Traveling abroad can be stressful for many people, especially for expats who have to move their entire home to a new country. They have to sort of their finances, accommodation, health insurance, and leave their comfort behind. It means leaving their group of friends, favorite coffee shops, and, most importantly, home. You may feel the excitement, anxiety, and exhaustion planning and executing your move. Then, adjusting to your new country, its culture and language can be distressing as well. If we don’t take care of our mental health, we’re bound to hit a depression. It is important to check in with yourself as you hit all the important milestones of becoming an expat. In this article, we will explore five mental health tips for expats overseas.
1. Find out how traveling could affect your mental health
Many factors can affect your mental and physical health. Once you’re aware and mindful of these factors, you will be able to cope with your distress. Factors like sleep play a big role in your day to day activity. Know your current sleep level and expected level of sleep you would need while traveling. If you have too many life events going on at the same time, it can affect your health as well. It includes births, deaths, divorce, and moving. Other factors to consider are changes in jobs, promotions, unfinished projects, and any form of financial activities.
Furthermore, if you’re someone who takes medications, or trying new prescriptions, talk to your doctor about how it might affect your travels. For some, traveling to a far country and its consequent jetlag can be a factor. Moreover, if the country you’re moving to is going through a political shake, research thoroughly on how you can keep yourself stress-free. Additionally, one common factor that can affect your mental health is culture shock. Therefore, don’t move to a country blindly. Take time to get familiar with the culture and customs even before departure. This way, you’re most likely to enjoy new experiences.
2. Bring a piece of home with you
Leaving our comfort zone is never easy. During the early stages of settling in a new home, we tend to get homesick. Plus, it doesn’t help if we’re lonely. Here’s a tip for mental health care for expats; consider bringing something that reminds you of home. Having something familiar in a sea of the unknown will help you find your center again. Bringing some snacks from your home country, a family picture, or even your favorite book can help reduce homesickness. Additionally, when you’re going through longing or loneliness, it is crucial to let the emotions go through you. Let it run its course by trusting the process. Take your time, but learn to enjoy the moment.
3. Seek Out Healthy Spaces
Another mental health tips for expats is to be positive. When you continuously seek out healthy spaces, you will consistently be in a positive state. Staying positive is imperative when it comes to caring for your mental health overseas. You can break a sweat by going to the park, pet some cute dogs, and enjoying a good view. Sometimes when we feel down, we have to create a healthy space for ourselves. Similarly, there’s always yoga or meditation classes available.
If the city feels congested, be in nature. Go for a hike or do an activity that will help you get out of your slump. If you feel lonely, meet a friend, and do an activity together. The perks of being in a new city are that you have plenty of exciting stuff to explore.
4. Connect with your family and friends
With the current rise in tech, we don’t have to feel disconnected from our family and friends. Keep in touch with your loved ones through Skype and Whatsapp. Schedule video frequently calls with your family and best friends and speak to them about your daily adventures. Usually, if you’re having a tough day in a new environment, talking it out loud with a confidant will help you get it off your chest. Furthermore, through communication, you will get a better sense to tackle your new day. Sometimes, it merely helps to get updates on their lives, so you have something to focus on. Getting support is vital when it comes to caring for our mental health overseas.
5. Connect with other expats
Similarly, connecting with expats in your area will help you a lot. It is because your fellow global nomads are most likely going through the same roller coaster as you! You will feel a sense of relief to share your feelings and have someone understand exactly what you’re going through. You may even find other expats who have crossed that ocean and be able to give you pointers on how to deal with your current situation. When you have the support and be able to support someone through friendships, you’re likely to focus on better things. You can be doing projects together, visiting other cities, exploring new things. It is always a little better when you have someone to share your experiences with.
Coverage for Mental Health
A final thought – remember that if you go abroad, it is key that you obtain an international health insurance plan that will cover new mental health challenges and treatment should they arise. While some global medical plans will exclude mental health claims, some will provide robust coverage for counseling, psychologists, in-patient treatment and medications. Your mental wellbeing is critical if you are living abroad and your global medical plan can be a vital part of your overseas assignment and life abroad. Note that individual plans will require medical underwriting, so if you have a pre-existing mental health condition, it might not be covered by the new insurer. Most group plans will cover pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions.