Let's Talk Mental Health — Top 10 Things to Do to Feel More Positive
Moving abroad can be an overwhelming experience and for many this can affect their mental health. It is an adventure but also a challenge that requires strength and courage. From culture shock to homesickness, every expat is bound to have those days where they want to throw in the towel. Sometimes even the smallest thing such as being late for work can dishearten you. This is mainly because you are unlikely to have the same support network of friends and family that you had at home. We’ve created a list of ideas for things to do when things aren’t going your way and get you back on track to having a positive experience abroad.
1. Be a Tourist for the Day
Living in a foreign country is an amazing opportunity to explore a new place, yet it can be easy to take it for granted when you’re there every day and no longer a tourist. It’s likely that wherever you are, there are a variety of places of interest and tourist attractions. Having some spare time is a great excuse to go and enjoy where you live. This can really help to banish those negative and anxious thoughts, make you realize how lucky you are, and give you a newfound appreciation for where you live.
2. Find New Friends to Meet Up With
Moving abroad gives you a great excuse to meet new people. It’s a good idea to put in the effort to make friendships with locals and other expats alike. This will make your experience abroad more enjoyable and fun as you get to share it with others. Making friends with fellow expats can be easy as there is already the common ground of having moved abroad. However, it’s also useful to make friends with local people who can show you around the best areas and help you get to grips with the local language.
3. Stay Active and Try New Things
Being active and getting your body moving is guaranteed to fill you with endorphins and boost your mood! This could be going to the gym, jogging or even trying out a new fitness class. Fitness and dance classes can be a great way to meet new people, too. Exercise is not only a way to keep your body healthy, but also your mind happy. Regular groups and activities help to get you into a good routine and give you something to look forward to each week. Make the most of what your new home has to offer: this could be an Alpine hike with breathtaking scenery or perhaps a game of ice hockey in Canada for those who want to try out popular sports particular to their new home.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
Going for a long walk in the outdoors may seem simple, but it can really help! Staying indoors when you’re having a bad day might seem like the easiest option but spending time outside in the fresh air can help you relax your mind and put things into perspective. It’s difficult to stop anxious thoughts taking over, so distract yourself with some people watching or by exploring. As an expat you might not yet be familiar with the area, so it’s a good opportunity to discover new places, too.
5. Try Out a New Café or Lunch Spot
Being in a new place is a good reason to try out any places to eat or drink and find out what the local cuisine is like. Even just going for a coffee in a nearby café can be the little thing to brighten your day. Exploring the streets of your new home may lead to finding hidden gems and trying the local cuisine such as escargot in Paris can be a fun activity to do with other expat friends. Who knows, you might even like a place so much that it becomes your new local hangout! Finding a place that serves your nationality’s food can help on those days when you’re wanting a taste of home.
6. Read a Good Book
Freeing your mind of any anxious thoughts by delving into a character’s world instead can help you find peace and restore harmony in your own life. From Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, there is a book to suit everyone’s taste. Finding your local library and having a browse is a good way to read different genres and even find books in another language if you want a challenge. There are a lot of useful books on dealing with anxiety and stress which can help you to calm your worries. And books such as The Mobile Life, written by experienced expats Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker, are full of tips for resettling after a move abroad.
7. Catch Up with Family and Friends from Home
When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to cut yourself off from everyone else, especially your loved ones. It might be hard to be honest about your experience as you don’t want to worry them but losing contact will make them worry even more while staying in touch with close friends and family can really help you. There is a reason these people are in your life — they care for you and want to be there for you!
8. Listen to Music
Music can really affect your mood and emotions. When you’re having a bad day, put on some upbeat songs and even sing along if want to! For those days when you don’t want to do this, perhaps opt for some relaxing, slow music which can help calm you. Even putting music on while doing other things such as cooking can help fill any silence and make you feel less alone.
9. Write It Out
It may seem like something you do when you’re a child, but writing a journal can help to organize your thoughts, allowing you to better understand and process them. It doesn’t have to be written in a journal; it could just be a note on your phone. The important part is that it helps you to address your anxiety and stress, which can help you identify the causes and think of any solutions, too. If you don’t want to focus on your negative thoughts, regularly writing out a list of things you are grateful for guides you into positive thinking.
10. Find Motivational Quotes or Expat Blogs
Scrolling through social media online can sometimes worsen rather than help boost your mood. However, if you can’t face going out or the weather isn’t good, it can help to look online. There are a variety of different social media pages with motivational quotes, which can help reassure you and put a positive spin on any negative thoughts you’ve been having. Blog posts from expats can also help you feel less alone, as you might relate to their personal experiences and realize that a lot of people are going through the same things as you!