This has been on my mind to talk about for a while. Even when I was living in Thailand, I struggled with this more than I’d like to admit. I guess part of me felt guilty for struggling with mental health while being abroad. I mean, I had this opportunity to live in another country and travel the world.
The truth of the matter is, making such a huge transition takes strength and courage. Mental health can still be as challenging as it was wherever you were living before.
Yes, being abroad can be beneficial. Maybe systemic racism isn’t a thing (or not as prevalent). Maybe the economy and healthcare is better in your new country.
Trust and believe, there’s so many benefits to moving abroad.
But mental health isn’t black and white, and it doesn’t evaporate just because you moved out of the country. Although, I do believe with the right tools, you can improve your mental health abroad.
So, if you can relate to struggling with mental health in a new country, this is for you! And different ways (or reminders) of how to cope with your transition.
Seriously! It’ll make such a difference, even if you’re only outside for 10 minutes. Sometimes you have to force yourself to put on some clothes and shoes, but your future self will thank you.
I try to get outside within the first hour of me waking up and wowwww, how good that’s been for me.
This will be super helpful for your mental help, even if you’re an introvert. We all need human connection and it helps to find people that look like you or have similar interests. Check out Facebook or MeetUp to find people.
When I was living in Thailand, I was a part of Chiang Mai Nomad girls, Brothas and Sistas of Chiang Mai, and BlackPackers—all of which helped me so much. I really made lifelong friendships by joining different groups.
Finding people that look like you because they give you a sense of belonging. Yes, you want to assimilate into the culture, but it’s equally important to find people that make you feel safe and at home.
I’m an advocate for therapy, especially during transitions. It can help you deal with everyday life, loneliness, coping with moving abroad, etc.
Before I moved to Thailand, I promised myself I was going to be in therapy for a year no matter what happened. The highs, the lows, the in-between. Even on the days I felt I didn’t need therapy.
It can be anything, but the only way to find out is by trying a bunch of different things. Sign up for a dance, cooking, or art class. Anything you’ve wanted to try, do it when you move abroad!
I found my love for hiking and nature since moving to Thailand. Now it’s something I try to do regularly.
It can be as simple as finding a park you like to go to. Eating your lunch there or reading a book—don’t overthink it.
This will help you because if you struggle with your mental health, you’ll have bouts of different feelings come up; having a routine helps you to feel stabilized. It helps you have to feel at home within your body and regulate whatever emotions come up.
These five things have been helpful for me when I struggle with my mental health abroad because healing doesn’t stop just because you move from Texas to the Maldives.
Although I think being in the Maldives might help haha.
I would also recommend checking out these different resources and communities to join abroad.
Remember, being abroad is a huge transition on top of healing your mental health. Things might still come up for you, so I encourage you to make sure that you’re taking really good care of yourself. Even when you don’t feel like it, doing this will give you a more balanced mind, body, and spirit.