Staying sane when working overseas

Working abroad is an adventure. It can sometimes get overwhelming, threatening the expat’s psychological health. Here are simple suggestions for maintaining positive mental wellbeing:

  1. Take a break in your adopted country. Everyone needs a bolt-hole (the metaphorical garden shed), and many cities have well-known retreats – Moganshan, for example, is an established getaway for Shanghai urbanites.
  2. If that doesn’t work, retreat to your home country. This is the ultimate sanctuary. Take as long as you need – work out of your home office if you can.
  3. Many of us, of course, can’t do either. So, seek refuge in the city by pampering yourself. This could be fine dining, spa treatment or a luxury overnight stay (as strange as it seems).
  4. Join a spiritual or support group. Church is not just for church-goers; go there and sit in calm, reflective silence.
  5. Wherever you are, take a step back and reflect on the big picture. This fundamentally alters your perspective. Instead of dwelling on gritty travails and setbacks, think about how far you’ve come. Expat life is a brave move, so congratulate yourself.
  6. Seek professional counsel. Some problems will not go away and could perhaps worsen. While you might have great friends, they are not necessarily experts when it comes to mental health issues.
  7. The last option, I’d argue, is to quit altogether if things get too rough. Many of us are encouraged to leave one’s comfort zone; stay out of it for too long and there can be repercussions.