While international travel restrictions may be easing somewhat, people living overseas still face difficulties getting vaccinated, being comfortable taking long flights, and perhaps facing long quarantines if they wish to go home for visits.
Many are retirees or other baby boomers who have not been able to see children and grandchildren for more than a year.
Guest writer Jack Warner tackles the issue of what my old sociology professor would call “expat alienation.” Translation: loneliness and other tough stuff to deal with.
By Jack Warner
Much of the world has been living under lockdown measures for more than a year, as countries across the globe have put travel restrictions in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.
One often overlooked set of victims has been expats, unable to travel to visit family and friends thousands of miles away.
Adapting to an unfamiliar culture in a foreign country is one of the most difficult parts of being an expat. Culture shock, as it’s called, can leave expats feeling anxious and alienated in the new environment.
The inability to travel, social isolation, and other coronavirus-related restrictions have exacerbated the feelings of anxiety, homesickness, alienation, and other challenges that expats often face.
The uncertainty surrounding questions such as when the pandemic will be over or when international travel can resume can take a toll on expats stuck temporarily overseas.
How do you cope with the challenges of being abroad, away from your loved ones, during the pandemic? Here are several tips to help expats deal with the feelings of homesickness and to stay healthy under these difficult conditions.
Establish a Routine
Months of isolation and not seeing family and friends can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. Experts say that establishing a routine is essential to maintaining your sanity and fitness, as long as it’s a healthy one.
Resilience grows with proper sustenance and rest. Create a schedule for rising, meals, and bedtime, and (perhaps needless to say) stick to it.
Keep In Touch With Friends and Family
Isolation and loneliness can have severe effects on your physical and mental health, so it is more important than ever to reach out to friends and family.
Simply picking up a phone and talking to a loved one can make a world of difference. But while it helps to reach out to loved ones the old-fashioned way, that’s not the only option.
Thanks to recent advancements in technology, you have plenty of options when it comes to staying in touch with the ones you love.
You can video call your kids, grandkids, friends, etc., via apps such as Skype and Zoom. Just enter a few details — such as a username and email address — to create an account. You can also use FaceTime on your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook to make free video calls.
Watch Local Sports and TV Shows With Loved Ones
Viewing local entertainment and sports together is a great way to connect with friends and family back home. The problem is that Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and other streaming services have different shows and movies in each country. And sports channels streaming local sports don’t typically make these events available abroad.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch sports and other local content with your children and grandkids.
There are ways around location-based content restrictions. One of them is via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). What does a VPN do? A VPN can help you change your location to anywhere in the world. Use it to change your current location to your home country and enjoy local TV shows and sports with your family from abroad.
Join Expat Groups
The size of your social network affects your ability to adjust when living abroad, more so during a pandemic. Positive relationships are one of the key elements of well-being.
In most cases, the negative emotions experienced by expats, especially during the pandemic, are caused by the isolation resulting from the absence of friends and support. Joining expat groups is one of the best ways to find friendship and create a support network.
Create New Traditions
Sharing traditions brings people together. Creating new traditions, rituals, and celebrations can help you connect with your new expat friends. Celebrating these traditions can help you cope with the unprecedented situation brought about by Covid-19.
These special moments can help you overcome negative feelings of homesickness and anxiety when you can’t make it home.
The pandemic has left all of us in situations we could not have anticipated. Social isolation and being away from friends and family can have devastating effects on your mental and physical health.
But this crisis won’t last forever – and there are plenty of signs that the worst may be over soon.
Jack Warner is a cybersecurity expert with years of experience at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on cybersecurity and privacy tools.