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Expatriation: When your mental health starts declining & What to do about it.

Expatriation: When your mental health starts declining & What to do about it.

Depression is a very serious medical and psychological disorder that puts one’s outlook on life in a very negative and dangerous perspective.

By its definition, depression drains your creative potential, your life purpose, your hope, energy and your motivation, making it extremely hard to feel better.

In fact, the WHO estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s also the world’s leading cause of disability.

It is a quite common disorder and it’s said that one third of people have experienced depression during their lifetimes, in one way or another and this can even get worse when you move abroad to start an expatriate adventure.

There seems to be a spiraling cycle that can lead from relocation stress to depression and, ultimately, suicide. Expatriates and their families experience significant degrees of stress. 

Do you have feelings of sadness or emptiness that can’t just go away within a couple of weeks? 

Are you easily irritated over seemingly minor issues?

Do you feel anxious and restless ?

Are your anger management skills low?

Have you lost interest in activities (including making love)?

Have you recently had thoughts of death or suicide? 

I’ve been living in Paris for almost a decade and have gone through the highs and downs of what life in the city of light can take one through. It’s tough and its impact on one’s mental health can be disastrous.

In this post, I’d like to share five powerful ways and tips I’ve been using to beat depressing thoughts.

Disclaimer: While this isn't professional advice, I hope it’ll help whoever reads it. Should you need help, please consult professional advice.

Dog, Sad, Waiting, Floor, Sad Dog, Pet, Puppy, Animal

Let’s get this started.

To overcome depression and address mental health issues, you may need to start with small steps.

Healing and getting better may take time and it is important that you don’t expect overnight results.

You need to decide now to make positive choices for each and every day.

When dealing with depression, it is important to make an effort and take action. There will be moments when it’ll seem hard especially when you’re overwhelmed with negativity expectations.

One of the simplest methods is to come up with what social science designers call ‘happy thoughts’.

Basically, these are things that you enjoy and that make you feel good even when thinking about doing them.

Exercising, going out, spending time with family, friends and engaging in a pleasurable hobby are all highly beneficial and recommended steps.

The things that are hard to tackle are those that might actually help you most in the long run.

However, it is important to start small, by doing something that will make you feel good right now.

Every small step made is one step closer to becoming a healthier and better version of yourself.


1. Stay in touch and get support

When dealing with depression, it’s crucial that you reach out to other people especially in your neighborhood. Acknowledging that you need help and support will help you keep a very healthy perspective towards the future you are planning to build.

When you are depressed, it is oftentimes difficult to connect to friends and family, but staying active and involved socially with other people can keep a positive effect on your mood and outlook.

Being around people will simply help you feel less depressed.

Try to talk to a friend or family member who is a good listener.

They don’t need to be able to offer any helpful solutions. In fact, don’t do it because you expect some specifically miraculous solution from them. Just the mere act of talking and sharing how you feel can help you relieve depression.

One of the ‘tricks’ is partaking in social activities that help others – like volunteering.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that providing support to others in need, be it to people or animals, will boost your mood.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. As above-mentioned, start small. You can start small by simply offering a listening ear to a friend in need. You will see that these small steps will help you go a long way.


2. Engage in activities that make you feel good

Even if you don’t feel like it at the moment, if you force yourself to engage in an activity that you know will make you feel better, you will give yourself a huge opportunity to break the depression cycle you’re in at the moment and open up to positive outcomes.

Typical for this situation is that you will feel glad that you forced yourself to partake in the said activity, as it will make you feel so much better about yourself and life.

It’s important to mention that, just by engaging in fun and pleasurable activities, you won’t cure depression, but these activities will help you feel more energetic and increase production of ‘happy hormones’ in your brain.

The following shortlist of activities is known to help people relieve effects of depression:

  • Spending time in nature and in the sun

  • Making a list of things that you like about yourself

  • Fill a bathtub with warm water and have a long and relaxing bath

  • Read a book that you enjoy

  • Play with your pet

  • Listen to the music that is on your ‘favorites’ playlist

  • Binge-Watching some funny video compilations

  • Make a list of small and easily achievable tasks and complete them one by one

  • Go out with your friend or a group of friends for a drink, a exhibit or just a walk

  • Find the way to express yourself – through art, exercise, dancing, learning or a hobby

  • Make small trips to places you always wanted to visit.

3. Build healthy habits

Having enough sleep is one of the most important things when dealing with depression. 

It’s recommended to spend at least eight hours sleeping.

If you sleep less than optimal eight hours, oftentimes both your mood and energy for that day will suffer.

If you have troubles with sleep, think about the stressful situations that you are exposed to, and try to grasp what it is that stresses you.

Also, by finding a way to take control over a situation that causes you stress, will help you relieve the pressure and feel better.

One of the useful practices that you should adopt are relaxation exercises such as yoga, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation and many others.

4. Eat well and healthy

You must learn about what foods are beneficial and what to avoid.

Intake of certain types of food directly affects your brain and mood. Typical examples are caffeine, alcohol and trans-fats.

Avoid those whenever possible and try not to skip meals as it will make you additionally irritable.

Avoid sugary snacks and refined carbs. Although they can lift your mood for a short time, they are known as energy crashers. 

Cooking, just like painting and long walks, is a form of meditation, creativity and powerful mental sanity practice that's - unfortunately - underrated by this generation. Try cooking your own meal and you’ll see how amazing you’ll feel.

5. Reach out to a professional

Starting in small steps can significantly help you when dealing with depression, but they are not a substitute for getting professional help.

Mental health is a serious condition that can negatively affect your life in many ways than you can imagine, but it is treatable and easily manageable if you seek professional help.

Rest assured that all these small steps together will bring you speedy and complete recovery. 

Start small. Start today.

Last modified onMonday, 14 September 2020 09:51
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