Living as an expat in a bustling city like Hong Kong can be very exciting. It can also bring about various worries and other mental challenges associated with the fast-paced lifestyle and environment within the city. Research conducted by Swiss banking group UBS revealed that residents in Hong Kong clocked up the longest working hours anywhere; a staggering 50.1 per week while averaging of 17 days of leave annually.
Apart from the stress inflicted by work, an expat can also be faced with a variety of domestic challenges while adapting to a culturally-different way of life. Moving house and starting a new job are known to be stressful events, with these stresses being amplified when you are starting a life in a new country. These challenges can negatively impact an expat’s emotional wellbeing as well as put strain on their relationships with family and friends. Finding an outlet for the various stresses is of great importance, with one practice helping expats tremendously when it comes to dealing with everyday obstacles: yoga.
There are many factors that seem to contribute to yoga’s effectiveness in dealing with anxiety and stress.
It decreases tension and promotes relaxation
Our bodies tend to constrict when we are tense and we retain tension in our necks, shoulders, jaws and elsewhere. An excess of muscular tension can cause a feeling of unease within our minds, creating even more tension. Yoga helps release the grip anxiety has on us, helping us relax and providing us with more vigour to face our challenges head on. A spiritual awakening can change your mindset and will render you almost immune to the daily curve-balls that life is known to throw at us.
It helps us regulate our breathing
Our breath is very closely connected to our nervous system. When we are anxious, we are prone to taking fast, shallow breaths or even subconsciously to hold our breath and then gulp for air. We soothe the nervous system when we take slow, deep breaths. Yoga teaches us to breathe with awareness and to use the breath to move through the challenging poses.
Yoga interrupts cycles of worry
Chronic worries can be very exhausting. When we step onto a yoga mat we have the opportunity to step outside of the thinking realm. Yoga gives us the opportunity to practise letting go of our worries and returning to our bodies and breath repeatedly. This practice teaches us to let go of our worries at other times too.
It trains us to accept discomfort
We often tend to move away reflexively from any discomfort and sometimes this retreat can push us away from what we value. Avoiding things that cause us anxiety will often bleed the life right out of us. When discomfort is expected, it becomes more tolerable. Yoga teaches us to face our discomfort head on, instilling an understanding in us that we don’t need to run from it.
Engaging in regular yoga sessions can contribute significantly towards an expat settling in in a new country. Not only will the sessions leave you feeling invigorated and empowered, but it will also provide you with the physical and mental strength needed to deal with whatever challenges a new life experience may throw at you.
Sally Jackson is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.