Moving abroad is a huge deal and with it comes some pretty heavy anxiety. So how do you deal with anxiety in the UK? How can you be a successful anxious expat?
As a Canadian living in England, I’ve dealt with my fair share of anxiety, stress and worry. I wanted to share exactly how I deal with being an anxious expat while still enjoying my life in the UK. There’s a lot of things people don’t tell you about being an immigrant in the UK, and high amounts of stress and anxiety is one of them. Thankfully, it’s completely possible to handle it in a positive and healthy way.
Anxious expat? Look after your physical and mental well-being
A lot of us are concerned with making sure we’re physically healthy – by working out, eating well, blah blah blah. But do you think about your mental health the same way? Probably not.
These are things I do to make sure I have the best chance of mentally feeling good. And while I am an expat living in the UK, and I definitely recommend this for expats, too, it’s still helpful no matter where you live.
Set a sleep schedule
Sleep a big factor in how I feel. It’s just as bad if I sleep too much or if I sleep too little, or I sleep at weird times. As a priority, I go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. Even if it’s a weekend, I try to stick to my sleep schedule to give my body a good routine.
Setting a good sleep schedule is particularly important when you first move to the UK as the jet-lag will be kicking in. Start with a good routine as soon as possible and your brain will thank you!
Eat well (and eat enough)
It’s shocking how much food directly impacts your mental health. Eating like crap? You’re going to feel like crap. Not eating at all? Wow, guess what – you’re going to feel awful.
I make a real effort to eat well each day and give my brain the best possible chance of feeling good. Heavily processed foods or obscene amounts of takeout food always makes me feel worse the next day. Once while in awhile is fine, but I really try to limit the frequency.
It’s also important to stick to a proper schedule for food. It’s not health to consistently skip meals, so pick out a food schedule that works well for you and stick to it.
Budget your money
A big worry is money, especially for exapts. What if you run out of money while living abroad? Trust me, I’ve been there.
A big tip for expats is to keep a budget. Start before you move, if you can, and continue when you’re in your new country. Above all else, you need to understand where your money is, how quickly its going and how much you should be saving. It’s also important to have a good understanding of the general cost of living in England before moving (so you know what to expect).
If you want to learn more about keeping a budget for living abroad, check out my article here: How to budget for living in England
Exercise! Move! Sweat!
It’s annoying how much exercise helps my brain, I’m always shocked at the direct correlation. Exercise doesn’t need to be some giant run or Crossfit-type stuff, even a walk outside is helpful. In whatever way suits you, make sure to exercise your body (which in turn helps your brain!).
If you want to get “two birds with one stone” being in nature or outside in the fresh air is a big help, so if you can exercise outside – even better!
For expats in a new home, it’s really helpful to go for a walk, outside, while exploring your new home. Understanding where things are and getting around easily makes you feel much more at-home when living abroad. Plus exercise is always helpful. It’s basically three-birds-one-stone!
Make time for hobbies
While moving abroad is a huge experience, you still need to make time for the little things you enjoy.
Joining local clubs, teams, MeetUp groups, etc that you enjoy is a great option, plus you’ll meet new people in your new home country. It’s always awkward at first but that’s just the way it is. Your life in the UK may be completely different to your life back home, so it can be really grounding, soothing and calming to return to hobbies you enjoyed from your home country.
I’m anxious and I want to live abroad – what do I do?
There’s no easy solution, your anxiety will come with you.
For me – I find taking responsibility for my mental health is a big part of it. I can’t ignore it, and if I live an unhealthy lifestyle, I know it’ll just get worse. And that’s on me.
So I actively work on it, giving myself the best chance possible to feel good.