Lady exercising in a field

Eight ways expats are taking care of their health and wellbeing

PUBLISHED: 4 May 2022 | LAST UPDATED: 4 October 2023

We’ve been listening to expats’ conversations on social media from across the world, to learn how they’re taking care of their general health and wellbeing, and hear about what techniques are working to support their mental health*. 

From coping with maintaining long term relationships to worrying about the effects of pollution on their health, there are plenty of challenges to contend with when living abroad. If you’re struggling, here are eight ways we’ve heard expats are taking care of their mental health

1. Proactive and preventative healthcare 
Physical wellbeing can have a real impact on mental wellbeing, so to achieve a sense of calm in both regards, it's worth taking some preventative measures. For instance, if you're particularly concerned about the impact pollution could have on your health - a worry we've seen raised multiple times in our research from people with asthma - If you have an international health plan you could take advantage of your benefits package and utilise your option to have have regular health checks with the Prestige and Prestige plus plans.

2. Hobbies 
If you’re feeling a little homesick, you could try picking up a hobby you had previously let slip. Not only will this bring back nostalgic feelings of something you previously enjoyed but building up a skill can also give you a sense of pride. This is a great way to build relationships with people who have interests in common with yourself, which helps to combat feelings of loneliness

3. Practicing mindfulness 
This can be a very personal one so it’s important to find what works for you. Our research revealed that many expats enjoy having a cup of tea in the sun or gratitude journaling. As long as it allows you to have 10 minutes of calm in your day, implementing this as a daily practice is a great way to stay calm when experiencing a big change. 

4. Movement 
The hit of endorphins that comes from exercising can be incredibly important when it comes to maintaining physical and mental wellbeing. Why not pick up a new sport that you wouldn’t easily have access to in your home country? It’s a great way to start building a community in your new home. 

5. Nutrition 
Eating a well-balanced diet has a direct impact on everyone’s mental state, which is proven by the gut-brain axis. This is the connective pathway which, when your gut is healthy, sends serotonin hormones to your brain, influencing how you feel. That said, we know that eating healthily can be an extra consideration when you’re already feeling overwhelmed by your new environment. Where possible, try eating fresh food and local delicacies as a fun way to get to know your new culture. Some expats also love cooking recipes from back home when they’re feeling homesick.

6. Relationships 
Putting yourself out there can seem like a mammoth task, especially if you’re a more introverted person. However, a successful integration requires a strong support network, which means having people nearby when you need a pick-me-up. Reach out to other expats within your company, as connecting to people in the same boat will help you to build a support network.

7. Entertainment 
Escapism in small doses is vital for de-compressing and switching off. Tuning into a new series, gaming with players online or listening to music are some of the top ways expats have said they like to relax.

8. Social media 
In the virtual world, it’s great that we can keep in touch with people from back home. It’s also made meeting friends in new cities easier than ever, as there are a host of online forms and groups for expats to reach out to. Looking for a list of Facebook groups is a good place to start building your network in your new home. 

For more tips and advice, visit AXA's Wellbeing hub 

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.

*Social media listening conducted by Listen + Learn from 2018-21, across six regions: Canada, Dubai, France, Hong Kong, Scandinavia and the UK.