Five Self-Care Tips for Expat Life
A Healthy Expat Lifestyle includes Self-Care
For expats, self-care should be an essential part of your life abroad. So, what exactly is self-care? Self-care refers to caring for yourself in three aspects: emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When you care for yourself in these areas, you are promoting a healthier and more enjoyable life. It has become common knowledge in the healthcare profession that engaging in self-care activities reduces depression, fatigue, anxiety, and sluggishness.
What are some examples of self-care activities? They include being outdoors in nature, eating healthy meals, meditation or practicing your faith, playing with your children, exercise, reading, journaling/writing, listening to relaxing music, traveling, having a massage, and having a hobby.
Expats need to practice self-care throughout their journey. But practicing self-care during stressful times, such as a crisis or emergency, would be strongly recommended. Another critical period in your expat life where self-care would be helpful is when you first arrive in a new location or before you leave a location. Both timeframes can be stressful. As such, doing one of your self-care activities can help you refocus on the plans ahead.
In the middle of a stressful time, be it a crisis or settling into a new location, self-care might seem counterproductive. But it is during these times that one needs to break the routine or momentum and do self-care. You might think that it is too challenging to find ways or options for self-care during these periods. Let me offer some tips to get you thinking about self-care that is cognizant of our current global circumstances.
Tip #1: Daily Self-Care.
Add small self-care activities to your daily life routines. Try daily meditation, yoga, or a simple walk for exercise in your neighborhood or at lunchtime, practicing the proper social distancing. Pull out or dust off the gym equipment sitting around the house or apartment—time to use it. Try joining a local gym virtually for exercise classes online. Hire a fitness coach for virtual sessions or try a fitness app. It could also be an excellent way to meet new people. These actions can help counteract stress.
Tip #2: Create a Self-Care List.
Expat life can be hectic, so take a moment to jot down two lists. First, how you will include self-care in your life and how you can maintain those things. Second, think of self-care activities you would like to add. Then create a plan to get started. It could be new hobbies like joining a local table game or book club or eating local healthy delights. Take some time to look up tabletop game clubs and contact them. Search for recipes to try or even take a cooking class. These activities can all occur in a virtual setting or a properly planned social distancing space that follows the guidelines for small gatherings.
Tip #3: Follow-up with Self-Care.
No expat experience is stress-free, so self-care can help you reframe and serve as a positive reminder of why you are on this overseas journey. Let’s face it, not knowing the language, trying to learn new cultural norms, and even your daily commute if your back in the office or going on a trip to gather essentials like groceries in your new location can be overwhelming. Thus, applying self-care after experiencing some challenges and everyday stressors can also help.
Tip #4: Enjoy Self-Care Your Way.
Remember, self-care should be enjoyable, relaxing, and rejuvenating. It should help you regain energy, perspective, and even some motivation. So, find activities that fit your personality. Some people like a spa treatment, but that might not be for you. Others might enjoy hiking or trail-walking. But for you, it could be hopping a flight to explore a neighboring country (when borders re-open). Know that there is no prescribed way to care for yourself. What matters most is that you practice some self-care; it can be creative or traditional. But it should matter not to anyone else, but yourself.
Tip #5: Seek the Counsel of a Professional
If your self-care routine is not effective, then self-care can be professional counseling. If you constantly feel stressed or have a sense of prolonged overwhelmingness, find a local, certified therapist or member of your faith who can help you create a healthy way forward. Many mental health offices or practitioners have virtual sessions. This new option is private, convenient, and can reduce any shame or stigma one might be feeling. Expat life can be a roller-coaster, and there is no shame or stigma if you need a bit of help to manage it all.
Above all, self-care is about reducing stress or other worries, thus allowing you to enjoy and make the most of your expat life and journey.
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—Karla A. Fraser, Five Self-Care Tips for Expat Life, Roseapple Global, LLC. Published in the Expat Chronicles on Medium.
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