This has been an interesting topic to me – I have struggled with depression before and have found ways to manage it by monitoring my diet (cutting back on sugar!), getting enough rest and exercise and trying to nip it in the bud when I find myself sliding into it. Big changes like moving overseas can trigger pretty severe depression. I experienced this 22 years ago with 3 little children and a rough bout of morning sickness with my 4th pregnancy when I lived in Spain and England – no internet for me then, no real way to research expat life. I felt very isolated and out of my element – I had a hard time assimilating because nothing seemed familiar. I was tired, overwhelmed and not taking good care of my emotional health.
I’m a little older and wiser now, and I’m reading everything I can on how to get myself out of a funk when the going gets tough. I found these simple tips on a blog by Victoria Craig from 2010, but they are still relevant today:
“Knowing how hard relocation depression can hit, here are some tips for anyone relocating who might eventually, or currently, find themselves in this position.
- Know Yourself. Take a good look at your life before you move. How do you fill your days? What activities do you do? What keeps you busy? What things do you do so regularly and automatically that you take them for granted?
- Make Goals. Even if they’re small, keep yourself inspired by striving to accomplish something, and rewarding yourself when you do.
- Take Action. Make an effort to do at least one thing every day towards a greater purpose – whether that be finding work (trailing spouse), finding friends, or something else – one concrete action towards it each day will keep you going.
- Create a Routine. When we have structure, we get used to a dependable schedule – something we do at the same time, on the same day, every week. Find a way to recreate this pattern with a reliable activity – either one you do every week (e.g. going to the gym), or one you find and pay for (e.g. a continuing education class).
- Join the Community. Find a way to get involved in your local community – this will help you meet people, and also find companionship, and give you a sense of purpose.
- Find a “Check-In Buddy”. Once or twice a week, talk to someone to check in on your emotions and activities. Make it someone you respect and agree to let them be honest with you and to tell you if they sense you’re depressed. Agree to try and follow their suggestions.
- Take it easy. Sometimes, the best way to handle frustration and despair is to simply focus on something else – meditation, yoga, a walk in nature, etc. Shifting your energy can have profound impacts on your life.
Courtesy of Heather Markel, www.culturetransition.com