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Five ways to be a mindful expat

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Moving abroad can be a challenging step to take. Anxiety, stress, and the apprehension of facing new challenges, or even failure, may seem daunting to you. However, starting a new life abroad can be a once in a lifetime opportunity as well, and the stress and anxiety can be dealt with by staying mindful. To ensure a successful move abroad, Expat.com gives some tips on how to be a mindful expat.

Take deep breaths and focus on the positive

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Very often, expatriates are not truly aware of the impact that a change of lifestyle can have on their health and well-being. How successful you will be in your project greatly depends on your personnality, and on your perception about living abroad. Some people are likely to experience higher levels of pressure and stress than others – which is why you should try to better understand your inner self and assess your abilities to overcome challenges cropping incessantly.

You may be thinking that it will be easier for you to adapt to your new life in a big city with all the necessary amenities. In reality, it's not always the case and many expats are likely to feel lost in the chaos of their new city. Nevertheless, do not allow yourself to be conquered by anxiety and despair. In order to stay centered and relaxed, whether you're feeling apprehensive in a new city, or even lost in a quiet small town, learn to be mindful by taking a few deep breaths and calming down your nerves. Inhaling and exhaling at a controled rhythm is a simple exercise that will help you release the pressure and make you feel more at peace with your surroundings and your circumstances.

Challenge your mind to focus on positive thoughts rather than what's going wrong. Keep in mind that moving abroad was a choice you made to achieve certain life goals, whether it's academic, professional, or for a personal relationship. Remember your own strengths and how much stronger you will be thanks to your expat experience.

Pay attention to small details

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Obviously, much of your new expat life might seem unfamiliar to you at the beginning. Adapting to a new country takes a lot of courage and mental preparation, especially if you don't have any friends or social network yet. Even though you will be needing support, you can still try other ways to feel at home, or at least find your bearings.

Start by going out to explore your new city, even if you don't feel like it. If you live near a park, for example, why not go for a short walk after work? Watching birds walk along the pond and admiring the beauty of a flower bed can help you stay mindful and present in the moment, especially if you're a nature lover lost in the chaos of a big city. While walking along skyscrapers, look up and marvel at how tall and impressive the buildings are. Observe what the buildings and designs are made of, the tiles, the colours, the architecture.

Be curious

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An expatriate is generally someone with an adventurous mindset, ready to try new things. But even if you're not, it doesn't mean that you should limit your time hanging out in your comfy home. Going out to discover your neighbourhood and your city can be a good idea. Observing people around you and their behaviour can help you have a better understanding of their cultures and lifestyles.

The coffee shop next door can be a good starting point. You don't really have much to do except take a seat on the terrace and watch the passers-by while sipping your coffee. If you are experiencing loneliness, this will probably help to make you realise that you're not the only one. Many like you are trying to adapt and survive in a new place.

It can also be an opportunity for you to acknowledge that you're now enjoying a greater freedom to do things you have always wanted to. If you live near a mountain or a park, for example, take the time to discover them while exploring your athletic side. Challenge yourself to be curious, to learn new things, and take up new hobbies.

Appreciate the simple things in life

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Learning to appreciate life at its simplest can take your life abroad to new heights. Often, expatriates tend to be feel frustrated, trying to find the perfect work-life balance while still adapting to a new culture, people, and environment. Make the most of the moment, even if things are not happening the way you would want them to.

If, for example, you're queueing up at the supermarket and the line is not moving along, spend the time observing what's happening around you rather than playing with your phone. You will find that it's much better to go with the flow than to let your frustration take over.

Sports or meditation

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Between your personal and professional life, you might not have always have time to explore your surroundings. There are, however, many other ways to help you stay mindful, such as sports and meditation. Sports activities will not only help you to keep fit but also release endorphins, the feel-good hormones. It will also increase your energy level and improve your sleep – which will definitely have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.

Besides helping you relax and deal with stress and anxiety, meditation can help improve your mood and consequently, your relationships. Meditation can also boost your creativity and motivate you to challenge yourself, both at a personal and professional level.