We’re living in uncertain and stressful times right now. Although the current global situation with the Coronavirus is affecting people everywhere, it’s presenting a unique set of stressors for expats and global nomads.
My globally mobile clients have been expressing concerns such as,
What if I can’t visit my family this year?
What if my work contract gets canceled and I’m sent home?
It’s so much harder to be away from family at times like this when I’m worried about their health!
What if my spouse can’t get back home to our family from their business trip?
I don’t feel comfortable in the medical system in the country I live in and now I’m worried about needing to rely on it.
As an expat spouse, so much of my identity lies in running my own company, but now I have to help home school my kids too!
I already felt lonely and worried about my future as an expat, now it’s a whole new level!
This is why I’ve put together a list of tips for how to cope with the anxiety and uncertainty of the coronavirus as an expat or global nomad:
Technology is amazing! There are so many different activities you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Take a tour of a museum, watch a free online concert, or try a home yoga class (I love Yoga with Adriene!). If you’ve got kiddos at home with you, you can even find child-friendly yoga poses and workouts on the YouTube Kids app.
Cultivate Your Virtual Community
There’s no reason for social distancing to decrease your socializing. Organize a virtual coffee date or happy hour, join an online community such as I am a Triangle, or an expat group on Facebook (“Two Fat Expats” and “Expat Women” You can even get on a group Facetime call with other global nomads and have a book club, play a game, or meditate with your friends and family. And if you’re working from home, set up a virtual coworking session with colleagues. This is the group tomato/pomodoro timer we use in my community for Location Independent Therapists when we host virtual coworking sessions. You’ll be surprised at how productive you’ll be!
Prioritize Your Own Self-Care
Although I believe self-care should always be a priority, I’d say that now it’s more important than ever. You might be taking care of a significant other, worried about older parents on the other side of the world, or navigating being a homeschooling teacher while you try and work from home. Don’t forget that you can’t pour from an empty cup! Try to take a break from social media so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the news or absorb other people’s anxiety (unless you’re using social media exclusively to find cute animal videos!).
Don’t try to use this time to be super productive! Sure, clean the house if that helps you, but this isn’t time to “live your best life,” it’s a time to slow down and turn inward. I’ve included some ideas of self-care strategies that work really well with my clients that you can use when you carve out your own self-care time in your schedule–
Use This Time to Finally Try Mindfulness
In times of uncertainty, pulling your mind (gently) back to the here-and-now is incredibly helpful. Mindfulness exercises, like the 5-minute one I introduce in this article, can be a great way to practice doing this. And if closing your eyes and focusing on your breath isn’t your thing, try this–
Notice when your mind is floating off like a balloon to “what if” land and grab the string and very gently bring it back to the here and now. When you’re back in the present moment, make a mental note of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel (touch), 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
Let Yourself Feel Whatever You’re Feeling
In uncertain moments such as this, it’s incredibly normal to feel anxious, sad, or frustrated, especially if you are a global nomad. It’s not a time to beat yourself up for not “staying calm and carrying on.” See if you can validate how you’re feeling. “That which we resist, persists” and if you try and stop yourself from feeling a certain way, it will only increase.
Zoom Out to Focus on the Good
When all we’re hearing are messages of doom and gloom, trying to zoom out and see the big picture can be incredibly helpful. A gratitude journal is a relatively simple practice to try that can have profound effects. Try writing down 3 things you’re grateful for either when you wake up, or before you go to bed. It doesn’t matter if they’re really small things, it will keep your brain on the lookout for the positive in your life.
You could also do something like bookmark uplifting posts on Instagram, or share positive news stories on Facebook. I don’t know about you, but this pandemic is really reminding me of the power of humankind to come together in times of need.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
If you’re feeling like your own self-care routine isn’t enough right now, then the best self-care might be to reach out for help. Reaching to family and friends is great. But you might also want to work with a professional who can help you learn to manage your worries and create a coping skills toolbox that’s just for you.
I offer a free 30-minute chat to explore if working together would be a good fit. You can schedule this call HERE
I’m wishing you all the best during these uncertain times. Remember, we’re all in this together!