When traveling out of the country, whether it be for an extended period of time or just a short visit, it is important to learn how to care for your mental health and well-being in a new environment. This topic is extremely personal to me at the moment, as I’ve just started my semester abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. So far, the experience has been very positive, but I’ve learned a few important lessons about handling your mental health care while away. Below are some tips to help if you are ever interested in traveling while also keeping your well-being in mind.
One of the worst things you could possibly do for yourself while abroad is isolate yourself. If you stay in your accommodation all day and don’t get out for events or activities, you’ll likely find that you’ve set yourself up for failure during the rest of your time away from home. Go out and socialize with roommates or even just keep your door propped open when you move into your new space. Participate in activities around the area you are in, even if you go out to do them alone. It’s much better to be around people while doing an activity than isolating yourself.
Keep Drinking in Check
While drinking culture is big in the U.S., there are many places across the world in which that culture is even bigger. You’ll often find that as the drinking age is lowered, the presence of alcohol is much larger. Be sure to become mindful of your alcohol consumption while abroad. In a new area where anxieties and emotions are high, it can be easy to turn towards alcohol to cope. This soon can make your trip turn sour. Try to keep your drinking limited to weekends or days off and only at night. Try not to drink alone, as this can increase your anxiety and depression levels. Finally, if you have past issues with alcohol or substances, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. Reach out to local resources if you need help with controlling or abstaining from alcohol.
Build a Support System
Having a solid support system is incredibly important while living or staying abroad. Loneliness is one of the main issues people will deal with while living away from home for a longer period of time. Make sure to keep in contact with your friends and family back home while away by scheduling times to call or FaceTime. Joining groups or clubs can also help you build a better network to lean on while you are away from home.
Sightseeing while you are away from home is one of the best ways to support your mental health. Whether it be alone or with friends, seeing the beauty of whatever part of the world you’re living in is a great way to get out and explore while also enjoying nature. By making time to sightsee, you can also fill your trip with worthwhile activities and fond memories.
Hopefully with these tips and tricks, you are able to enjoy your visit abroad while also feeling your best. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and schedule plans and activities to keep you busy. Sightseeing and making plans with others is a great way to achieve this. Reaching out to your support system as well as local resources can also help you support your mental health while abroad. Finally, controlling and tracking your drinking and substance habits while abroad will greatly affect both your mental and physical health. By keeping your health in check, you can set yourself up for what will likely be one the best periods of your life!