How to Keep Healthy While Working Abroad

Updated: Feb 13




Maintaining healthy habits is the key to keeping strong, focused, and content. Make this a priority when making the change to working abroad in a new country and new job. Take time to add in healthy habits as you adjust to local foods, new environments, and different routines. Here are some simple ways to keep healthy:

Physical


Nutrition

Keep a healthy, balanced diet to get a good combination of Go, Grow, and Glow foods in your everyday meals.

  • ‘Go’ foods are carbs like: rice, bread, potatoes, that keep your energy up.

  • ‘Grow’ foods are proteins like: eggs, nuts, meat, beans, that help build and repair muscle.

  • ‘Glow’ foods are vegetables and fruits that provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that keep hair and skin glowing and digestion healthy.

Learn more about Go, Grow, Glow foods from the Philippine Information Agency: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1002800


Stick to these rules:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink 8 glasses of water every day. Water is essential for healthy body processes and helps flush out toxins and waste.

  • Keep a balanced diet and limit the amount of fried foods you eat.

  • Eat the rainbow: Have a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit.

  • Avoid pre-packaged and processed foods like cup noodles, chips, and candies

  • Reduce your sugar and salt intake.

What you eat is really what you are! Nutrition affects your entire physical whole well-being.



Sleep

It is recommended for adults to get between 6-8 hrs of sleep per night. Good sleepers eat less calories, focus more, and are more productive. They also have better attitudes and appearances because they feel rested and ready to take on the day! Lack of sleep makes you vulnerable to sickness. It is important to prioritize sleep and resting when needed - especially on a busy schedule.

  • Keep a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time everyday.

  • Avoid being on your phone or electronics close to your bedtime.

  • Get sunlight in the morning, and make the room dark in the evening.

  • Don’t overeat just before going to bed and avoid caffeine in the later part of the day.

  • Be smart about napping: Napping too long may throw your sleeping rhythm off.

Find more sleep tips here: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm/


Exercise

Keeping active has many benefits such as: preventing sickness, weight control, improved mood, boosted energy, and better sleep. It can also be a social activity that you can do with friends or do to meet new people.


It’s recommended to have at least 2 hours of moderate exercise per week. Start simply by sneaking some more activity in your everyday schedule:

  • Use the stairs instead of elevators when you can, and

  • Take taking a short walks around the block every now and then.

  • Do some stretches and on-the-spot exercises such as push-ups, planks, and squats.

Find more easy exericses here: https://www.self.com/gallery/bodyweight-exercises-you-can-do-at-home



Mental


Breathe / Meditate

Our mental health affects the way we think, act and feel. Working abroad will mean that there will be times where you feel homesick and stressed as you adjust to your job and environment. These are normal! When you feel down like this, remember to take a moment to take care of yourself.

  • Breathing - Taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off right away and relieve some of the stress immediately. Slowly take deep breaths in and out to calm yourself down.

  • Count 1-10 - Doing this gives you space to think how you will respond professionally to a scenario, and not just react emotionally. It's a form of short meditation to help you relax and calm your down when you are distressed. If you’ve been feeling less focused, more scattered, or having more knee-jerk reactions to stress producing events, try this technique. Breathe in and out for every count, and repeat for 5-10 mins.

  • 24-hr rule - Especially powerful when dealing with family-related matters; give yourself time to respond thoughtfully to concerns and issues instead of reacting emotionally. Often, we regret our emotional reactions. Give yourself time to process things first before making any response.

Emotional / Spiritual

No matter how busy or tight your schedule, make time for activities outside of work that are simply for personal fulfillment & growth.

  • Community, volunteer or hobby groups - We all have a shared need for connection and a sense of community. Look for interest groups or classes you can join.

  • Keep in touch w/ family & friends - Always ensure that you make time for communicating with family and friends, and work hard to maintain your connection regardless of distance. There are plenty of digital apps you can use to keep in touch with your loved ones (Check out https://www.fairtraining.org/infohub/some-essential-applications-for-working-abroad), so maintain a regular schedule for uninterrupted communication with them.

  • Personal development - Never stop investing in yourself by learning! Find courses to join around you or use public resources like a library or the internet to learn something new.

We'd love to hear from you: how did you manage your health and well-being while working abroad?

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