Today I am handing my blog over to the lovely Brie of Brie-Anne, who is going to talk about how she looked after her own mental health when she moved abroad! A great read for anyone pondering such a move.
Moving abroad can be hard, not just financially, but mentally too. With the looming political changes, for some people, moving to another country may feel like the best step forward.
But what if you struggle with your mental well-being?
The emotional toll of packing up your belongings, saying goodbye to your support networks and hopping on a plane is enough to cause anyone stress, but when you already struggle with your mental well-being, this stress can be magnified.
It’s important to minimise the impact this stress can have on your health and to do that, there are a few things you need to think about before making a move.
1)The first and most important is your medical care
Do you have adequate medical insurance set up?
Tackling the health care systems in other countries is yet another stressful activity.
In France, the health care system can take months to get fully registered and although the healthcare here is phenomenal, it’s a tiresome process. We’ve been spoiled by the ease of the NHS in the UK.
2) Your support network
How will you stay in contact with your support network? Email? Phone calls? Regular flights back?
Living abroad can be really lonely, even more so if you don’t speak the language.
Leaving behind friends and family can be a giant strain on your mental well-being and can make you feel isolated and trapped.
Finding new support networks while maintaining regular contact with your current network can really help you stay positive.
3)How Will You Meet New People?
Do you have any hobbies/Interests? Is where you’re planning to move good for participating in said hobbies?
Websites like Meet-up, Internations and even Facebook groups make it easier for people to find and make friends abroad based on their passions, but it’s important to figure out what’s available where you’re planning to go.
If you’re moving to a small village in the middle of nowhere, there’s a strong possibility you’ll feel isolated.
4) Mental Preparation
It’s so easy to get distracted by the applications and paperwork side of things that you don’t take the time to mentally prepare yourself for the challenges you might face.
Investigate everything from the weather, age demographics, crime rates, the quality of life, the lifestyle you’re likely to lead and prepare yourself.
Are you 10000% sure you’re making the right decision?
5) Ask for help if you need it
Being away from friends and family means your contact will more than likely be via social media, texting, emails or phone calls – while it’s great that modern technology has allowed us to be able to contact people so effortlessly – without seeing people face to face, or speaking regularly, it’s so much easier to deny any problems and say “I’m OK” instead of asking for help when you need it.
6) Stay Productive
Living in a new environment, somewhere you don’t feel comfortable, can lead you to develop reclusive behaviours.
Avoiding this, no matter how hard it may be, is so important for your mental well-being. Find ways to stay productive.
I’m possibly the laziest person ever, but learning about productivity and keeping myself busy has possibly been one of the biggest saving graces since moving to France.
If I’m not blogging, I’m working or exploring new places.
7) Have a Financial Plan
Worrying about future finances is one of, if not, the biggest worries for people moving abroad.
Do you have a supportive job? Do you have somewhere to go back to if everything goes wrong? How long can you support yourself with current finances?
Having back up plans and feeling secure is really important to avoid anxiety.
Money anxiety is one of my biggest issues, so knowing that if everything goes wrong with my income there are other options has really eased my mind.
Moving to France last year after 3 years of planning has been one of the best decisions I made – but it hasn’t been the easiest.
I didn’t speak a single word of French and I knew nobody (except the husband I moved with).
I joined a language school, and can honestly say it was the best decision I made for my mental well-being.
Not only did I meet and make new friends (who were all in the same boat) but I also learnt the basic language skills I need to get by on a daily basis.
It kept me busy in between work and blogging and also gave me more confidence in myself, so if you get the chance to study abroad – then go for it.
Without the school, I can’t imagine how isolating my first year here in France would be.
Would I have actually made an effort to go to any of the Meet-up groups/ facebook groups I joined – or would I just recluse myself?
Living here has improved my mental well-being in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to “fix” you.
If you’ve thought through every eventuality, you have back up plans in place and you’re sure you're ready for this, then take a leap!
But, if you have any hesitations, or concerns that your mental health might not be up to the stress, then maybe it’s not the right time to move. And anyway, the UK is still pretty incredible!
About the Author
Brie is a blogger at Brie-anne.com after years struggling with mental health problems like anxiety and depression coupled with the strain of living with Endometriosis. She found solace in blogging and moving to France.