Moving to a new country can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life, however it isn’t always plain sailing and the challenges it poses can take a toll on your mental state. With this in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the obstacles that becoming an expat can throw at you and offering some tips on how to cope with these stresses.
Keep a healthy work-life balance
If you’ve moved to a place like Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai for work, chances are you will find the work hours more demanding than in the UK or US. Overworking can worsen depression and even lead to burnout.
While your job may demand more hours from you than you may have expected prior to the move, there are ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Simply switch off from ‘work-mode’ once you’ve left the office. Try to relax in your time off and take part in healthy activities. Switching off your work phone and refraining from checking your emails can be a great way to enjoy some mental respite from the stresses of work when you’re off the clock.
Try to learn the language
There are a number of reasons why learning the local language can be beneficial for your experience as an expat in Asia. You’ll find it easier to go about day to day life, complete bureaucratic tasks and also find it easier to make friends.
However, you’ll also be able to integrate better into society and feel more attached to your surroundings. Feeling detached or disassociated with your new setting is one of the main causes of depression in expats, and can foster negative thoughts and discourage you from enjoying some of the opportunities that your new experience affords you. Picking up a few phrases and learning the essentials of a language can be a great way to combat this and make the most of your time abroad.
Keep in touch with home
Most people are very determined to keep in touch with their loved ones at home when they move abroad to Asia. However, with the stresses of work life, a new social scene and the time difference between both regions, it can be harder than you think to stay connected with those at home.
While you’re off enjoying all of the new opportunities that being an expat has to offer, home might not be the first thing on your mind. But in quiet moments and when unfamiliar challenges arise, feelings of homesickness can hit hard and sudden. But by staying in regular contact with family and friends, whether via Skype or by scheduling regular visits, you’ll still feel connected to your old life and close to your loved ones.
Live a healthy lifestyle
Long hours in the office, followed by enjoying the lively social scenes that Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai have to offer, can have an effect on your physical health and your mental wellbeing. Staying healthy physically can have a direct correlation on your mental health and combatting depression and anxiety.
By ticking a few easy boxes, you can ensure you’re looking after yourself, both physically and mentally. Make sure you’re getting your 8 hours of sleep a night, while a balanced diet will do wonders for your energy levels. At the same time, while it may be tempting to enjoy the nightlife often, limiting your alcohol consumption to a moderate level is a sensible decision for a number of reasons, including for the benefit of your mental health.
Recognise the signs and take action
The most important thing you can do to look after yourself mentally is to regularly check in with yourself. It can be very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of expat life and neglect to take stock of how your mental health is doing.
Regularly taking the time to check in with yourself and identify any signs of stress or anxiety can be of huge benefit. By taking the time to recognise any warning signs, you are able to make any changes you feel could improve your mental health, and are able to seek professional help or guidance if necessary.