Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Studying Abroad

4 minute read
Mental health post moving abroad

Going abroad for higher studies has been a part of everyone’s dream life at some point in time. We believe it is our chance to live the life that we have witnessed in movies and web series. However, reality hits and the realisation of a new way of life and responsibilities dawns upon us, all at once. It may make one feel overwhelmed with the pressure of managing everything on their own. One may figure out that the line “Welcome, to the real world, it sucks” is meant for them. There may be a possibility that this might be taking a toll on mental health. The feeling of being overburdened could be a preceding effect of anxiety and depression. Sometimes one doesn’t realise they are suffering because they might be unaware of the symptoms.

Let us look at some common symptoms of anxiety and depression below:

Anxiety

  • Feeling nervous, tense or restless, seemingly without a reason.
  • Having an increased or decreased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly.
  • Sweating profusely.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trembling.
  • Trouble concentrating on anything else than present worry.
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Frequent random headaches.
  • Fidgeting or shaking of hands and limbs without a reason.
  • Feeling of fear or dread of impending doom that seems unending.
  • Difficulty sleeping, disturbed sleep or sleeping too much.

Depression 

  • Sadness, seemingly without a reason.
  • Irritability and mood swings.
  • Constant worry.
  • Feeling numb or nothing at all.
  • Muscle/joint aches and pains, without any injury or reason.
  • Fatigue, mental and physical.
  • Feeling worthlessness.
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much.
  • Feeling misunderstood.
  • Lack of interest in social interaction.
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene. 
  • Lack of motivation to do anything.
  • Not wanting to keep up with deadlines, assignments, attendance or other commitments and work/school-related activities.
  • Not caring about important things or caring too much about things that aren’t too big.
  • Not wanting to talk or talking too much for distraction.
  • Avoiding friends and family.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Imbalance in interpersonal and professional relationships.
  • Sudden change in energy levels, personality and behaviour, which seems out of character.
  • Trying to escape difficult situations/conversations.

These symptoms may result from underlying stress. Stress can be triggered because of various factors:

Homesickness

The feeling of homesickness can lead to one experiencing anxiety. Once you are away from home, the first few days may seem to be on the new horizon of independence. But, when that feeling dissolves, the idea of alone takes up the space in your mind. Missing the people you love and the time you spent with them might lead to a lot of demotivation.

Culture Shock

The first feeling to hit abroad is culture shock which makes you realise that is not your home country anymore and that comfort and familiarity of the home hit you hard. In fact a foreign land with barely any familiarity. This results in the feeling of uncertainty, confusion and ultimately anxiety.

Weather

Weather changes can change directly affect your temperament and mood. For someone who has always been in the warmer region of a country will have a hard time adjusting to a colder climate like that in Canada. This affects your body functioning and temperature causing health fluctuation and making you feel tired, exhausted and depressed. 

Racism

There is a possibility that as an individual you might have to deal with racism when you are abroad regardless of your nationality. Racism in a practical sense might put you in isolation or affect your mental health because of any derogatory statement made about you. It takes an emotional toll on you regarding values and cultural background.

Tips to take care of your Mental Health abroad:

  • Do not overthink. Overthinking is the root cause of stress, avoid any unnecessary stressful conversations with people and trust yourself that everything will be fine
  • Talk to someone you trust if you are feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of moving to a new place
  • Try to focus on something that diverts your thoughts. You can choose to do something creative or read a book or whatever you feel like
  • If you are feeling too burdened by the process take short breaks 
  • Spend some time with your family and friends and talk about your worries
  • Music therapy is known to provide some relaxation if you are stressed
  • Talk to a licensed counsellor who can help you pacify your concerns 
  • More than anything else, be there for yourself with a strong mindset and believe to keep your hand on your heart wishing “All is Well”

Studying abroad may be a challenging step but it surely will provide you with great experiences in your life and hopefully allow you to make new friends if you wish to study abroad, contact Leverage Edu your study abroad expert.

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