In our previous blog you could learn about the cycle of change, which describes the emotional rollercoaster of an expat’s journey to adaptation to living abroad. Even though the manifestation of the different phases will differ per person, almost everyone who moves to another country will encounter every one of these stages.

But what to do with this knowledge? First of all: knowing that these changes and feelings will occur when you move to a different country is the first step. But how can you still make the most of your first year(s) and take good care of yourself during this rocky time?

- Think about what makes you happy. What kind of hobbies did you have back home? What is your usual pick-me-up when you feel down? Try to think of five activities that bring you joy and make a plan on how to do them in your new environment. In some cases you need to be creative, because your past hobbies might not be easily accessible in your new environment.  But keep in mind: doing things you love, even in times of sorrow, will lighten up your overall mood.

-  Make sure your days remain structured: get up early and make sure you have a combination of fun, meaningful and useful activities to do during the day. If you are a joining partner and not have to work it might feel like a vacation, but this is not a holiday – it’s your life.

-   Engage in new activities. Now that you are in a new environment, you can also think of skills that you always wanted to learn (such as language) or take on new hobbies (yoga, cooking class, creative course). Sometimes, being in a new place also gives you more time because you don’t have the same obligations to friends and family. Using this time for your own personal development can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

-  Find out how you can meet new people, maybe even looking for people who are in the same boat. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people: complaining might feel good for an hour, but meeting people with a positive energy will be more likely to pick up your spirits as well.

-   Even if you and your partner are not on the same page, make sure you have an open and honest communication about how you are feeling. Even more so because being a working expat and joining spouse can create tension in a relationship, it is very important that you keep each other informed about the stage you’re in and what he/she can do to support you.


If you feel you could use some professional help to cope with adjusting to living abroad, please contact us so that we can help you get proper treatment: info@internationalmentalhealth.nl