Six Tips For Expatriates on Maintaining Their Mental Health While Living Abroad
Packing your bags and flying off to a foreign country to start a new life can be quite stressful at times. Leaving all the homely comforts behind can often make you feel homesick. Adjusting to a new culture where the language is a major barrier can be very difficult for everyone who is living abroad. The anxiety and stress of relocating can take a huge toll on your mental health and overall well-being.
The pressure of adapting to a new lifestyle can be overwhelming. Life abroad can be burdened with too many issues and leaving them unresolved can lead to severe depression. An Aetna International report also suggests that there is a sharp rise in mental issues including depression among expats across the globe. It is important for expats to plan in advance and be well-prepared and assess your strengths and weaknesses before you decide to start afresh in a foreign land.
Here are 5 useful tips that will assist you in maintaining your mental health when you decide to move to an expat destination of your choice:
1. Find Balance between Work and Life
If you are moving to a new place because of a job assignment, you may end up spending a lot of time working on your projects. The limited social and family life can leave you burnt out. Meeting your employer’s expectations and constantly trying to prove yourself can leave your thoroughly drained both physically and mentally.
The added pressure of adapting to a new work environment can drive you nuts. The solution to this stressful issue is finding the perfect balance between work and life. No matter how busy you are in your professional life, you will have to find the necessary time to socialize or spend quality time with your family. Create a daily routine for yourself and allocate sufficient “for me” hours. You will gradually see a marked improvement in your mental health.
2. Give Yourself Sufficient Time To Adjust
Adapting to living overseas should be a gradual process. Don’t push yourself too much when you are in the process of adjusting to a new environment. Maneuvering around a completely new place will take some time. Things will be very different from what you were used to back home. Don’t be overwhelmed by the three Cs – culture surprise, culture stress, and culture shock. Residing abroad as an expat is not like enjoying a long vacation. It can be very taxing mentally as you endeavor to overcome various obstacles.
3. Socialize and Build Strong Network
Once you reach your desired expat destination, it is important to embrace its culture and customs sooner than later. Get started by making new friends in your neighborhood or office. Connecting with fellow expats who have successfully adapted to an expatriate lifestyle will boost your confidence to face all the odds. They may even offer you the much-needed comfort and encouragement when you feel down and dusted emotionally. Join various social groups to build a strong network. Having people to talk to during your lonely days is vital for maintaining mental health. Familiar faces and voices can make you feel at home even in a faraway land.
4. Exercising May Help
It is commonly known that exercise can be helpful for your mental health both at home and abroad. It has been reported that regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It can be difficult to find the time to exercise, but you will feel better if you do.
4. Set Realistic Goals
Set goals that are realistic because overpromising and under-delivering can be very stressful. Meeting your employer’s expectations may be your priority, but don’t overextend yourself to achieve unexpected goals. It is always better to approach tasks and responsibilities methodically and cautiously. Don’t expect to be totally settled when you live overseas – it will take time.
5. Avoid Drugs and Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol intake is always dangerous. A few pints of beer may make you feel relaxed; however, regular alcohol consumption can harm the brain chemistry and lead to acute stress and anxiety. Too much drinking can lower the brain’s serotonin levels and aggravate the symptoms of depression. Similarly, recreational drugs can harm mental and physical health. If your psychiatrist has prescribed you medication to treat your mental condition, make sure you take them as directed.
Importance of International Health Insurance
You should opt for global health insurance before you pack your bags and leave for your dream expat destination. Your host country may not have adequate public healthcare facilities and in such a situation, your insurance policy can come to your rescue. Purchasing global health insurance may help you pay for any new mental issues that mar arise during your overseas stay. Note that if you have a mental condition before you purchase your insurance, the insurer may exclude the condition or one could be declined. Most employer-based group expat health plans will cover pre-existing conditions, including mental healthcare. Also, some plans out there exclude or limit mental health treatments. In the end, try to keep yourself secure and live the expat life you have always dreamt of!