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This is how Moving to a new Country can affect your mental health

Article by Romina Ciccarelli, Counsellor and Psychotherapist. 24th May 2021, Edinburgh

Life can take us through alternative routes because of personal, working, or economic motives. One of them is having to abandon the country that saw us grow to make a fresh start in a foreign land that no matter how welcoming it is, it will never be ours.

Emigrating can be carried out either in a blink of an eye or largely planned and happily. But what does it imply to our mind and body to do such thing?

In general terms, stress is associated to a negative event. However, auguring and promising projects can also trigger it. Emigrating involves a million of possibilities for which our mind might not feel ready to embrace and digest. It is then when it gets flooded with anxiety given the factor of unpredictability which leaves us blind with answers to anticipate. We are experiencing an extraordinary moment with no precedents from where our brain can search for material to take action.

The fear of ‘losing it’ is a common thought in anxiety disorders particularly when it comes to settling far way from home, no matter how much we have longed for it. Worries and uncertainty surround us and we might dread something awful might happen. Overthinking about how, where, with whom prompt negative emotions, or behaviours that can rock our health.

Anxiety can cause headaches, accelerate heart rate, difficult breathing, make us feel feverish, among so many others. This is more identifiable during the time of moving, but it can also start before the due date when we need to stay focus, functional, pragmatic and together when we say goodbye to our beloved ones. Under so much pressure and things to consider simultaneously, the machinery of our body can destabilise.

Some of the symptoms from the machinery out of order can also be IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation, diarrhoea, stomach-ache, insomnia, etc -even if we have never suffered from them before.

Once disembarked in strange lands, part of the symptoms may ease, but it will also do the adrenaline keeping us working. Because of that we can start feeling tired, sad, not being able to concentrate and with muscle fatigue. Under these circumstances it is always best to make an appointment with the GP to rule out any organic condition. Once this is out of the picture, we should commit to reduce our anxiety levels so that we have a more adaptive response and hence, we can go back to our every day life as soon as we can do it.

Please note here the importance of doing over thinking to take the anxiety off the spot. When anxiety seems to take over, what should we do to shake this uneasiness off our shoulders? Try going for a walk, cycling, cooking, gardening, speaking on the phone if we have no one around. As shallow as these activities may seem, their simplicity removes us from the tunnel of negativity about a future we cannot predict.

All things considered and if beyond all efforts done the feeling is you can’t do it on your own, you can always make a consultation with a psychotherapist to get tools and strategies to face this big change in your life and avoid your mental health being threatened.

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