While moving abroad can bring great positives and exciting opportunities, expats are in fact considered to be at a greater risk of suffering from mental health issues – particularly in the initial stages of transition to new surroundings abroad.
The cultural, climate, religious and language differences between their home country and country of residence are often significant and this period of adjustment can be very difficult.
Separation from family and friends, homesickness and social isolation can also have a negative effect on the mental health and wellbeing of expats.
Its also important to stress that good mental health is about more than just the absence of a mental health problem. As with many aspects of embracing expat life, it is about actively undertaking practical steps towards thriving – rather than simply surviving – in your daily life.
While mental health is clearly a broad ranging and complex topic, one of the simplest and most positive initial steps is to focus on overall health and wellbeing as a whole. A good diet, exercise, giving up smoking and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can work wonders for your mental – as well as physical – health.
Physical activity in particular has huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking can increase our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Regular exercise increases self-esteem, and reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems as well as improving the quality of life for those people suffering with them.