Moving abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, and meet new people. However, moving abroad can also be stressful and overwhelming, and it’s essential to prioritize your mental health during this transition.
Unfortunately, our mental well-being is often not our priority when planning a move. But after experiencing many moves myself, I have learned that focusing on my mental health helps me deal with all the stress and setbacks a lot better. And now, that I have kids, prioritizing my mental health is a no-brainer to keep the stress levels low for the whole family (as kids can be very sensitive to stress).
Although mental health is not often discussed when planning a move, it’s important to recognize that moving abroad can be a challenging experience, both physically and mentally.
When moving to a new country, everything is new and adapting to a new environment (learning a new language, navigating a new city, and adjusting to cultural differences) can cause a lot of stress. Add to that the long list of things to do and bureaucratic hoops to jump through, and you got yourself a perfect mixture for stress and even anxiety. The first weeks and months abroad can be very emotionally draining and can often leave you feeling deflated and unmotivated.
That’s why maintaining good mental health while living abroad is crucial. It can be easy to neglect self-care when you’re in a new and unfamiliar environment, but it’s essential to prioritize your mental and physical well-being. This can include finding ways to stay active, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough rest. It’s also important to take breaks and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
And most importantly, make sure you communicate this clearly to your spouse or loved ones. Just let them know that you need a morning or day for yourself to recharge your batteries and respect that your partner or kids might need one as well at some point. Even deliberately planning a weekend away after 2-3 weeks in your new host country can do wonders when it comes to getting the required rest and recharging your emotional batteries.
And if you are by yourself or really struggling to adjust to life abroad, don’t hesitate to seek out professional support. Many countries offer mental health services, and there are also online resources available for expats who may not have access to in-person support.
To wrap up, here are some of the things that have really helped me with my mental well-being during each move:
Build a support network: It’s important to have people you can turn to for support during the transition. This can include joining expat groups, finding a language exchange partner, or connecting with locals through social events or online platforms.
Stay active: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Find a local gym or try new outdoor activities to stay active and maintain a healthy routine. Or my personal favourite; take a walk through your new city or neighbourhood!
Practice self-care: Take time to do things that make you feel good, whether it’s getting a massage, taking a relaxing bath, or practising meditation. It’s important to prioritize self-care to prevent burnout and maintain mental well-being.
Set realistic expectations: Moving abroad can be challenging, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about the experience. Be patient with yourself, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adjust quickly.
Stay connected with loved ones: Use technology to stay connected with family and friends back home. This can include regular video calls or messaging to keep those important connections alive.
Plan mini-adventures: This is another one of my favourites, and I also included it as an activity in my book: planning mini-adventures. Plan a visit to a local museum or a national park and schedule time for yourself and your family to explore your new, beautiful host country!
Moving abroad can be an incredible experience, and it’s an adventure that I highly recommend to everyone. Still, it’s important to prioritize your mental well-being during this transition to ensure that you can thrive abroad. By taking care of yourself and seeking out support when you need it, you can make the most of your time abroad and create a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
For more tips and activities to mentally prepare for your move abroad, make sure to check out my book here.
Psst! Just between us, some of the links in my blog post might be affiliates. But don’t sweat it, you won’t be charged extra! If you happen to make a purchase, I might earn a small commission. It’s just my way of keeping the content coming and the dog food stocked. Thanks for stopping by to read my post!