Self-care is a relatively new buzzword in psychology circles. It refers to how we take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some examples of self-care are exercise, being in nature, playing with your children, eating healthy food, yoga, meditation, talking with a good friend, listening to music, having good sex, reading, massage, taking a relaxing bath, having hobbies, being creative, volunteering, and working in a psychologically and physically healthy environment.
Research has shown that when we engage in activities that promote self-care, our overall health tends to be greater, we are more socially engaged and describe ourselves as happier. When we do not promote self-care, we can become tired, listless, anxious, depressed or even fall ill.
For expats, self-care is especially important, particularly when you first move abroad. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify how you can take care of yourself, and where to go to do so. Often, the whole idea of self-care seems to fall by the wayside as you settle in and tend to the your job and/or the needs of family members. I offer some tips below to get you started thinking about self-care.
Tip #1: Self-care is preventative.
It’s important to integrate self-care into your daily life. Exercise should not be reserved for times of stress, although it can also be helpful to exercise when under stress.
Tip #2: Make a list of what you like to do to take care of yourself when you’re feeling good.
Think of things that you already do to take care of yourself and write them down. Then think of things you would like to do to take care of yourself and write them down too.
Opposite the things you would like to do, write down what you can start to do now to integrate them into your life. For example, if you’ve always wanted to paint, write down what you can do now to move toward painting. Taking a class or getting supplies on hand might be some examples.
Tip #3: Self-care is also remedial.
Let’s face facts: expat life can be stressful, particularly when you first move to a new country and don’t know the language, the cultural norms or your way around. Even buying groceries can seem like a monumental task.
It’s important during stressful times, to have your list of self-care items to refer to. You can then look at your list and see what would feel especially good at that moment. Try on the different ways of taking care of yourself until you get to the one that resonates with you. You’ll almost feel it click into place.
Tip #4: Above all, be creative.
For some folks a massage is the height of feeling good, for others it’s annoying. There is no right or wrong when it comes to self-care. This is a time to think creatively and out of the box. If binge-watching your favorite tv show feels like self-care, it is. Only you can be the judge of that.
If you need a break from the stresses of expat life, consult your self-care list and get cracking, you’ll be glad you did!
For more information about Expat Counseling and Coaching Services Online, visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.