5 Ways to Maintain Your Mental Health Abroad

Living abroad for a time can be as exciting as it can be frightening. Along with new experiences come new frustrations, new manifestations of stress, and new strains on one's mental health. As you traverse your new city, with all the good that comes with it, one can also experience new things that might not necessarily be positives once the honeymoon period dissipates. The experience of being abroad, no matter where your country of origin is, can be ase eye-opening as it can be intensely isolating.

Here are five ways to check in with yourself and upkeep your mental health while abroad.

Stick to a routine

The whole point of going away is a disruption of routine, but once you get settled into whatever brought you to go away—be it escape from your old life, work, or school—you're going to need a routine at the end of the day. Find a café to visit every Wednesday, a walking route that works for you, a set hour when you like to have dinner, and stick to it. It's amazing what consistency can do for one's mental balance.

Meditate on your experience

Whether this means actual meditation or merely thinking about what you're experiencing is entirely up to you, but it's important to step back and take in every part of your experience so you don't feel overwhelmed. Make sure you give yourself time to breathe amidst all the excitement, as tempting as it is to be out every single night exploring or staying inside. It's essential, regardless of your temperament, to be as present as you can, and reflection is ironically enough the best way to go about this.

Know your limits...

​Speaking of staying inside, it's okay to feel tired! A new city is exciting and exhausting, and as you begin meeting people and your itch to explore begins to manifest, you'll be tempted to stretch yourself thin. Some of the best nights abroad involve yourself, a glass of wine, and whatever's playing on TV, whatever book you're reading, or the sanctity of your bathtub. Take breaks when you need to, or you'll be too tired to get out of your comfort zone when it's time to do so.

...but make peace with being uncomfortable

Speaking of that comfort zone, be comfortable with getting out of it. Outside of contending with a different culture and a different language, when one is abroad one must contend with the individual nature of wherever they are living, and accustoming to that takes stretching boundaries. For the shyer ones among us, that means learning to live in this city, and just walking down the street can be getting out of your comfort zone. The key is to make peace with this instead of approaching it with anxiety.

Fall in love with your new city

Perhaps nothing is more detrimental to life abroad than negativity about your new surroundings. You can't come into an experience like this thinking it will go poorly: every new city has something beautiful to find in it, and it's up to you to seek it out. Make it a mission, every day, to find something about your new city that you absolutely love, and soon any anxiety you might have about being alone abroad will dissipate.

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