Eight Ways To Maintain Mental Health Abroad
We know that traveling to a distant country is stressful, and taking care of mental health at the same time can be even more difficult. Striking a balance between mental health and travel can be extremely difficult because you may not have adequate access to the healthcare and emotional support that you received back home.
The hectic process of settling overseas can take a toll on your emotional health. The worst part is you will have limited people to talk to or share your feelings in your first language when you move abroad. However, all is not lost and you don’t have to panic as there are ways to maintain good mental health even if you are on foreign soil for the very first time. There is no doubt the initial few days will be very challenging. However, gradually you will learn to cope with your mental issues like anxiety, depression, mood swings, and substance abuse disorders.
Here are 7 wonderful tips that will help you stay physically and mentally healthy in your expat destination:
1. Build Your Own Healthcare Regime
Talk to your counselor or therapist back home and plan a schedule regarding your future visits to mental health counselors in your new expat destination. Go for a couple of sessions immediately if you think it is necessary and you can afford it. Speaking to your long-term counselor will help you get rid of the initial pre-travel jitters. The counseling sessions will also prepare you for handling different types of stress during your transition to a new abode. Talk to your loved ones to reduce your anxiety and get the much-needed clarity of thought.
2. Stock up Your Necessary Medicines
If you are already on prescribed medication for mental problems, make sure that you have a sufficient stock before you move abroad. Also, when you stock up your medicines, do the required research to know if the ones you are using are easily available in the place where you are moving. Note that some countries prohibit certain psychological health medicines like Adderall. Make sure you check the local regulations and bring your medicines in the original packaging or bottles with a doctor’s letter and prescription.
3. Find Quality Time for Loved Ones
Human connection is irreplaceable and it shouldn’t be ignored. Mood swings are common for expats with mental health disorders; so, spending quality time with loved ones or friends can help lift your spirits. In spite of the time difference, you can always schedule weekly phone or Whatsapp and Skype calls and be in touch with those who matter the most. You can also use online messenger services like Facebook Messenger to be in touch with your near and dear ones living far away.
4. Keep Yourself Occupied
Don’t make the mistake of sitting idle. This will have a negative effect on your emotional or mental health. Take up some part-time work if you have a lot of free hours. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, you can also go for a language or a cooking course. You can also find a new hobby for yourself to make that non-busy time productive. There are many possibilities but only if you really want to keep yourself busy.
5. Keep Good Memories Alive
When you are settling abroad, you can deck up your living space with some objects that would bring a smile to your face. Photos of your loved ones or greeting cards from close friends can give you the much-needed comfort during your lonely days abroad. You can also carry a childhood doll with you during your overseas travel if you will be more at ease with it. Maybe think about bringing a support animal abroad with you.
6. Use TalkSpace
TalkSpace is a great way to take good care of your mental health when you are moving abroad. It offers online therapy sessions through experienced and reputed professionals to boost your mental health. These therapies will act as continued support for your fragile mind and make you feel relaxed wherever you decide to go. If your expat employer has an international employee assistance program, make sure you use it.
7. Find Time for Workouts
According to various studies, physical exercises can help in reducing depression, stress, and many other mental health problems. Put extra effort in creating a routine wherein you have adequate time for physical activities and exercises during the day. Solo travelers can join expat athletic clubs to stay motivated for workouts.
8. Don’t forget to Find a Local Mental Health Doctor and Therapist
Being abroad in a strange county can be quite daunting if you are looking for a doctor who specializes in mental health. It will be critical to your mental health, especially if you take medications to support your mental condition. Check with your expat insurance provider to see if they know of a psychiatrist who can support you. The same goes for a therapist.
Healthy Mind Dwells in Healthy Body
Maintaining sound mental health during an expatriate life can be very challenging; however, don’t be disheartened by the slow progress. Build a robust contingency plan to ensure that you get the desired help and support to boost your mental health overseas. As you work toward the goal of being mentally fit, you will be surprised by the improvement you make in the process. You will develop a strong mind and an equally strong personality to face all the odds eventually. Living abroad can be both exciting and challenging, but it will be more enjoyable if you maintain your mental health.