Life abroad in times of Corona (or any crisis)
I know that these times are unprecedented for everyone. But living in a foreign country doesn’t make it any easier. So it is more important than anything else ti look after yourself.
First of all, even if you are settled in and know the place, things can be handled differently than what you would expect from your home country or the culture you grew up in. Especially in times of crisis.
Secondly, even though we have lived in the US for a bit and are settled in, it’s still a strange feeling to be far away from family and friends. You obviously can’t meet you family in person with the restrictions and social distancing but just being in the same time zone or knowing you are close can make a difference.
21 tips to look after yourself
No matter where you are during these times, it’s hard on everyone and we need to look after ourselves. Here are 21 tips to look after yourself.
1. Stay healthy
Now more than ever is an important time to look after yourself. Eat healthy and nutritious food, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep (if you are a parent I know this is not always possible) and take time for yourself. Your immune system will thank you for it and you will feel better and fresher. Again, if you are a parent, I know it is not always easy to make time for yourself, but every little bit helps.
2. Treat yourself
Don’t overthink being healthy all the time. My rule is 80% healthy eating and 20% indulgence. Mental well-being is so important and if a piece of cake, chocolate or ice-cream give you a mood boost, go for it. And remember, there are always healthier options of sweet treats that taste just as good.
3. Move your body
Moving your body is more crucial than ever. If you are like me and don’t like running, there are plenty of videos on the internet to keep you moving and motivated at home. I have been really enjoying Yoga with Adriene or Sarah Beth yoga. There are also plenty of apps to choose from so exercising shouldn’t be a problem at home. Going for a walk is also a great way to clear your mind and move your body. Remember, every movement is good.
4. Take an online course
Now is a good time to learn something new. Whatever your area of interest, you will find plenty of learning videos on Youtube.
A lot of top university also offer free online courses. Coursera has them all on one platform, check out their website coursera.org to see what interests you. And make sure to share your experience in the comments
5. Read a book
The list of books I want to read is endless. I’m sure you feel my pain. With kids, jobs and other commitments it’s hard for us all to take the time and focus on a book. But maybe now is the time to read without major disruptions and actually relax.
6. Binge-watch your favorite series or start a new one
If reading is not your thing, start watching the series you have always wanted to or re-watch your all-time favorite. In my case that is Friends. I can always watch it and have done so a million times it seems. But I also have plenty of new series on my Netflix list, so if I find the time, I definitely won’t run out of options.
7. Learn a new language or improve the one you already know
If you haven’t noticed by now, I love languages. So, this is definitely a good time to work on my language skill. I usually watch a Spanish series or movie on Netflix if I have the time (not really something I have at hand a lot). Another great way is also reading books in another language or simply studying with an app. Duolingo and Bubble are probably the best-known language learning apps but I also heard really good things about Busuu.
8. Call your family and friends
If you are at a stage of the lockdown where you can’t see family and friends, call them more often or talk to them on Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Houseparty, whatever works for you.
As an expat, this is business as usual for us, but we definitely talk more often with the fam and friends these days.
9. Start a gratitude journal
In difficult times like these, it can be challenging to keep a positive mindset. A good way to do it is starting a gratitude journal. You will find joy in the small things and value what you have instead of focusing on what you are missing.
10. Make a list of things you want to do once everything is back to normal
We are all hoping that this situation ends sooner rather than later. Uncertainty is the most difficult factor and makes it harder for some to keep a positive mindset. Start visualizing the things you want to do once this is over and write them down. There are plenty of ways to do that. If you are a visual person, maybe create a vision board at home or on Pinterest. Or if you are more a person of words, just write it down in a journal.
11. Cook your food from scratch
Cooking and making food from scratch has always been a big part in my life. Now it is even more important. Firstly, because I think it is important to nourish your body with good food to stay healthy and fit. Secondly, it is such a relaxing thing to do and takes your mind off things. My tip if you’re new to cooking, start with an easy, foolproof recipe to avoid frustration and ease into the whole cooking experience.
12. Help others
This is a bit trickier in times of social distancing, but there are always ways to help neighbors, friends or small businesses. I’m sure you have heard it a lot of times, but buying vouchers is a good way to help small businesses or even still order from their websites because a lot of them still deliver. Reach out to neighbors and just check in. See how they go and if they might even need help with grocery shopping or something like that. And just having someone to talk to and blow off steam is sometimes more than enough.
13. Get dressed, put on makeup, make an effort
I’m sure the first couple of weeks most people were in their sweat pants all day long or were taking calls and online meetings in the pjs. This was fun for a while but I got sick of it pretty quickly, I’m sure you did, too. I still wear comfy lounge wear here and there but I always try to make an effort, put on everyday clothes and a bit of makeup. A bit of mascara, concealer and blush make such a difference.
14. How about a date night or cocktail evening at home?
Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t dress up and have a date night at home. Cook a special dinner or make some extraordinary cocktails, put on your favorite cocktail dress and music and have a night out at home.
15. Write a letter or postcard to a loved one
Special times call for special ways of communication. Have you thought about writing a letter or postcard to a loved one? I’m sure they will really appreciate something so thoughtful. Just be mindful that it might take a bit longer than usual to send it.
16. Accept that some days are just worse than others
Even with the best routine and/or mindset, some days you will just feel like blah, anxious or down. This is totally normal and happens to all of us. There is not much you can do but accept and acknowledge your feelings. Try to find something that makes you a bit happier, like talking to a friend on the phone, taking a relaxing bath or enjoying your favorite chocolate.
This is also a great opportunity to get off social media and turn off the news as both tend to make us more anxious.
17. Sort those photos
I don’t know about you but nowadays we take more photos than ever but probably look at them a lot less than ever before. There are so many great ways to showcase your pictures. Decide what you like best and start the whole photo project. Choose all your favorite photos, create a photo book or print your favorite ones and store them in one of those cute photo boxes.
18. Be creative or crafty – or both
I know being creative or crafty is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you do enjoy it, this is a great outlet for frustration and to get your mind off of things.
19. Clean out your closet
Now that you are at home all the time anyway, you might as well tackle that big project you have been meaning to do forever – yes, I’m talking about cleaning out your closet. You might be surprised what hidden treasures you rediscover or what clothes you haven’t worn in decades and should just get rid of asap (and I don’t mean just throw away, but donate or find another purpose).
20. Clean the whole house
If your closet is not enough, why not clean the whole house. Isn’t spring time cleaning time anyway? Put your rubber gloves on and get that house or apartment clean.
21. Start a jigsaw puzzle
This is such a calming and peaceful activity both for kids and adults. Depending on the age of your kids, you might even be able to do a big jigsaw puzzle with the whole family.
How to take it from here
It sounds clichée but don’t lose hope and don’t lose your mind. And most of all, look after youself!
Hopefully, my tips will help you navigate these uncertain and difficult times. Of course, not every tip will work for everyone. Everybody’s situation is unique and we each have to choose what works for us.