How to Stay Sane while Living Abroad

October 15, 2018
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
I've spent long periods of time abroad like several months studying or working in the UK, an academic year in Ireland or the year I spent working as an au-pair in the USA. I went to all those places on my own. Any expat living abroad goes through ups and downs. Those "down" times are specially hard when you are alone. You become more sensitive and anything can affect you much more than in normal circumstances.

The focus of today's post is psychology. October 10 was World Mental Health Day which tries to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about this topic since it is very related to living abroad.
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I've always been interested in the topic of mental health. I love psychoanalising and I can always find a reason to justify certain behaviors. Working as teacher I see how teenagers deal with emotions and how the situations they live at home or with their peers affect their development. In the same way, experiences we live abroad shape our behaviour and affect our mental health.
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So what can you do to cut the stress out of life while abroad?

Create a support team
You may have moved abroad alone but chances are you are not the only one there. Find people in the same situation, do things together like getting coffee or visiting places and talk a lot. Share your experiencies, your thoughts, hopes and fears. It's the cheapest and most rewarding therapy you can get.

Do all your favorite things
Indulge on guilty pleasures. It feels great to do the kind of things we’d normally do at home. Something as simple as watching your favorite TV show can help you unwind and make you feel better.

Remember why you moved abroad
Was it to learn a language? To live new experiences? To see the world? To pursue your dream job? To be with the person you love? Always keep in mind what motivated you to take the plunge and how excited you were when you made the choice.

Phone Home
Long live Skype. It will be your best friend abroad. Hearing someone's voice can be so comforting.
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There's an app for that
I'm not a big fan of cell phones -I could lose mine and not realize until a day later...- and I hate how they've taken over our lives but I admit they are really useful. Last week I read about this app called Calm which helps you lower your stress, anxiety and improves your sleep. The app is all about meditation and soothing music and teaches the "basics of mindfulness" through audio programs which feature a narrator over relaxing images. I'm usually pretty skeptical about these things but I decided to give it a try and after listening to the first audio I realized how useful this could also be for those living abroad.
The app's initial programs are free, but additional programs targeting stress, anxiety, self-esteem, happiness and gratitude are only available on a subscription.

Think about all the amazing things your new home has to offer
Is it the food that you love the most, or maybe the landscapes or the people? When you move abroad you always compare your home country to your new one. Focus on those thing that make your new home so amazing.

Stay positive
Can you train yourself to swap negative thoughts for positive? A friend told me recently that it can be done and I decided to accept the challenge. It's incredibly hard when you are having a sh**y day but I've realized that just trying to do it improves your day.

Stop the stigma against mental health issues
Why is it so hard to talk about mental health? Because we are afraid of being judged by others. I hope one day sociaety will realize that we aren’t superhuman and it's ok to ask for help.
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Moving overseas is a big decision. Time abroad will be difficult, but it will also be highly rewarding. Be patient and keep a positive mind and you'll succeed.

More on this topic:
Traveling as an introvert
How to deal with culture shock
My experience traveling solo
How to survive Christmas abroad
Being an au-pair

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28 comments

  1. Living on Cloud NineOctober 15, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    You look so sweet and like a breath of sunshine. xo

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  2. Such a great topic. Skype and phone calls helped us a lot with living abroad, especially when one of us was 13 when she moved to school abroad and when she started to spend lots of time abroad :)

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  3. This was a really nice post, Cristina! :)
    I looove the app Calm! I often have it playing for some background white-noise.
    I also recommend Instant Timer! They have some free guided mediation and music, and you can pick the time frame you'd like to use it for!

    -Lor
    hyggememories.com

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  4. I'm hearing of more and more people using apps to help with their mental health. It is great that technology can make assess to aids so much easier xx Maria
    www.passionfruitpawsandpeonies.com

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  5. Thank you for your insight. I imagine keeping in touch with close family and friends can help someone so much. It's so great that technology is giving people help that need it.

    http://www.mylittlenest.org

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  6. I am so glad you wrote this post. It is very relevant. You made some great points =)) and I learnt a lot. Thank you.

    On to the outfit: it is cozy, girly, chic modern, on trend and colorful all rolled into one. I adore your Oxford Shoes too.

    Make sure you stop by Thursdays and join my Style Linkup “Thursday Moda”. I love your blog+style. Thank you. Ada. =)

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  7. I couldn't agree more with your tips dear. Indeed, it's amazing how comforting and empowring it is to hear your loved one's voice when you're away. Anyway, cute look you have here. Love how you played with colors.

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  8. These are great tips Cristina and not only helpful for people living abroad but also for anyone dealing with issues regarding mental or emotional. For me, it was the feeling of loneliness so being able to talk to close friends and family helped. Love this total cute outfit! Yellow looks gorgeous on you.

    Maureen | www.littlemisscasual.com

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  9. First, LOVE your colorful outfit Christina , beautiful scarf!! This was very interesting to read and I have alot of respect for you and people who can travel by themselves! I have not done that. I think the Skype tip and having a support system are important ways.
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx
    www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

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  10. Mummabstylish MummabstylishOctober 18, 2018 at 9:36 PM

    Really great information, well done for sharing. You look super in this bright outfit too, thanks for sharing. Jacqui Mummabstylish

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  11. Fantastic tips! I'd love to live abroad at some point and will keep these suggestions on file as productive ways to deal with hard days. Like you, believe the experience of living abroad would do much to offset the drawbacks of homesickness.

    Betsy | https://nattygal.com

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  12. Great post and outfit. Thanks for sharing it at the Top of the World Style linkup party.

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  13. I never heard of a blogger who wasn't a fan of cell phones...that's a first! ha ha! Great post, very informative. Love your outfit. All the color is so pretty.

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  14. Moving out so young must be a scary experience (but amazing too!)

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  15. I've never heard of Instant Timer, I'll check it out. Thanks, Lor!

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  16. That's true, Ruth. For me the best part of technology is that it helps you keep in touch with your loved one when they are far away.

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  17. Nailil Ivaldi RodriguezOctober 25, 2018 at 3:27 AM

    Great post! Also love your outfit. Thanks so much for linking over at thirtyminusone.com.

    Xx, Nailil

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  18. Thanks so much, Ada! You are always the sweetest :*

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  19. Thanks, Jess! It means a lot to me that you like the outfit

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  20. Thanks so much, Jess! I'm so glad you like the outfit :)

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  21. Betsy, living abroad is a wonderful experience that opens your mind like nothing else does. I hope you get to do it some day. What country would you like to live in?

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  22. I know it's really weird! But I do love social networks and sharing my photos with others :)

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  23. Thank YOU for the link-up, Nailil!

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