5 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Mental Health

Published 2020-10-27 17:26:17
Photo by Jusdevoyage on Unsplash

Mental health is already more important than before, especially during the time of COVID-19. And if you're an expat – traveling for a job, following someone who has to maintain said job, etc. – it can be even more difficult to live through these hard times, especially when you're potentially away from friends and family, local supports, your regular doctor, etc.

Therefore, it's important for everyone, including expats, to stay mentally fit during these pressuring times. Here are 5 ways you can take care of your mental health as an expat, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1- Have A Good Work-Life Balance

If you had to move to a new place because of a job assignment, schooling, etc., then work might dominate your life, which can be overwhelming for those looking to live life rather than work all the time. Even with a limited social and family life, that can leave the working individual burnt out, which can drain you both physically and mentally.

According to the Financial Times, the main reasons why expats might want to return home are:

  • Being close to family
  • A new job offer
  • A better healthcare system, AND
  • Education

Therefore, it's important to have a health balance between work and life, so that neither one of the two overpowers the other, and overwhelms you. This allows you to maintain a healthy mental fortitude, as you work around the obstacles in your expat-hood.

2- Connect With Emotions

Long lockdowns and social distancing can definitely take a toll on one's mental health. This can especially impact expats, since they can't return to their families as soon as possible, due to travel restrictions. Global mobility has collapsed since the beginnign of 2020 as we reported in a previous article.

However, you can still connect with your emotionsduring moments like these. Instead of reacting to your feelings, take some time and acknowledge whatever you're feeling. Then, let your feelings come and go. This means being mindful – know yourself and your mental state well. Although this can take a lot of practice and willpower, it's worth giving it a try.

3- Turn The News Off

Nowadays, with COVID-19 still ongoing, countless news outlets would bombard the masses with continuous coverage on said topic. While it's important to stay up to date on the news, it's still important for you to turn off the TV, if news coverage starts to get overwhelming for you.

However, it's important to know what's really going on. An ABC news affiliate from Australia has suggested that during the early stages of the outbreak, many people were “getting conflicting and inconsistent information from the mainstream and usual media sources, embassy staff and other government sources." In other words, misinformation may cause people – including expats – to panic and worry about their futures.

The good news is, you can change that! Instead of being a slave to the news, watch something else – a DVD, Netflix, funny YouTube videos – the list is endless! You can even filter your social media feed by changing up your settings, or uninstalling those apps.

4- Socialize

Although social distancing can make socializing difficult, that doesn't mean that you can't socialize online. Nowadays, people and places are holding virtual meetings and meet-ups in place of physical events.

Plus, you can make new friends (i.e. neighbors) from a good distance, and even get to know your coworkers on Zoom, Skype, etc. You can even connect with fellow expats on social media and online communities; or join various social groups to build a strong network.

Since COVID-19 has become such an impactful topic, video conferencing platforms like Google, Zoom, Skype, and the HouseParty app have become massive in popularity, and there's literally video conferences for everything.

HouseParty tends to be used by friends who want to hang out, which means it's a great app (and lots of fun too) to use if you want to hang out with your friends from back home, or even the new friends you've made abroad.

If you're working with customers and clients, use Zoom calls to get in touch and have the meetings you would have had anyway. There are also a ton of "virtual experiences' that have popped up across the internet. We've heard of things like virtual wine tasting sessions where everybody gets the same set of bottles and then share the tasting experience via a virtual conference call, usually organised by a "host". This is, of course, just one example, so no matter what you're into or what interests you have, get social and find a way to socialize with the things you're passionate about.

5- Be Wary Of Drugs And Alcohol

Whatever you do – don't rely on drugs and alcohol, because those things are dangerous to your overall health.

While one beer may make you feel relaxed, heavy drinking can lead to acute stress, anxiety, and aggravated depression. Similarly, recreational drugs can harm your mental and physical health, since they mess with your head and, eventually, your body. Therefore, it's best to stay clear of drugs and alcohol, even when you're on business in another country.


Although COVID-19 can test you, especially when you're on business as an expat, you can still keep a healthy mindset, and get through these harsh times. By following these 5 tips for mental health care, not only will you stay safe in your home away from home, but you'll also be stress-free. Remember: Every day is a new day, and be kind to yourself.

About the author

Kristin Herman writes and edits at Academized. As a project manager, she has overseen many writing projects nationwide.

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Author: Kristin Herman

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