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Health and happiness: your guide to a stress-free expat life

Moving abroad is an exciting adventure. You get to meet new people, explore new areas, and maybe even learn a new language.

However, expat life can also be a shock to your system if you're not prepared. Our guide to health and happiness offers the tips you need to keep yourself on track in your new home.

Well-being

If you've found relocating to a foreign country stressful or scary, you're not alone. It takes time to make friends in a new place, and this may leave you feeling isolated or lonely. However, there's plenty you can do to build yourself a support network:

  • Join a sports club or gym.
  • Find out if there is an expat group where you live.
  • Speak to your neighbours or invite them over.
  • Get involved in community events.
  • Talk to the locals when out and about.
  • Ask your new colleagues to give you a tour of the area.
  • Find out if your company or human resources department has an Employee Assistance Program as a source of support.

It's also important to keep in touch with your friends and family at home. Sharing your new adventure with the people you love will help you to feel connected. Try to get into the habit of writing regular emails or letters, making video calls and updating your social accounts.

According to one online poll from the UK, British expats are happier than their counterparts who still live in Britain. That said, it's natural for expats to feel stressed or low at times. If you do find yourself struggling with your emotions, speak to someone about it. This could be a new friend, a relative back at home or even an HR manager. You may find that talking through your feelings may be enough to boost your mood.

Eating well

It's easy to get yourself into bad diet habits when you're living abroad. If you don't know your way around the local market, you may find it easier to grab a ready meal from the local convenience store. Or perhaps you don't know how to prepare the local fruit and vegetables, and would rather let a restaurant chef do the hard work for you.

One survey revealed that 66 per cent of expats living in the United Arab Emirates dine out every week. Fast food diners and shopping centre food courts were among the restaurants most often chosen by those surveyed. In contrast, just 35 per cent said that they regularly ate fruit and vegetables.

Eating well doesn't mean you can never have a slice of cake again. It simply means that hot dogs, cookies and other junk food shouldn't make up the main part of your diet.

If you're living in Japan, you only need to look around you for diet inspiration. The country is home to more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. A study from 2016 found that diet plays a big role in the country's high life expectancy. They tend to eat foods that are low in saturated fats and high in carbohydrates.

No matter where you live, try to reduce your intake of salt, fat and sugar, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Exercise

There are many benefits to exercise, some of which are more well-known than others. You probably know that regular exercise improves your fitness levels and builds muscle, but you may not know that it can make you feel more alert. This is because working-out improves your blood flow, which in turn helps you feel energised.

Have you ever experienced a post-workout buzz? That's because exercise triggers your brain to release endorphins, a chemical that gives you feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

Keeping yourself in shape may also mean you're less likely to suffer from long-term conditions or diseases such as dementia or cancer. You may find that you're not as plagued by coughs, colds and other common ailments.

Looking after your well-being, eating well and exercising are the cornerstones of a fit and healthy lifestyle. The benefits of an active lifestyle are said to include increased productivity, mental sharpness and being better equipped to tackle stress.

For further information, don't hesitate to contact our friendly team of sales consultants, who'll be able to speak to you about the benefits of international private medical insurance, and the health and wellness support on offer for members.

If you've enjoyed reading this article, why not try:
A balanced diet abroad
Why do international assignments fail and how to avoid it?
Health care for new families: an international guide

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