What Does “Wellness” Mean to Expats?
by Sabrina Bucknole - Freelance Writer
Moving abroad with family can be a very hectic time, to the extent that looking after your health and wellbeing can fall by the wayside. You’re bound to be so busy with settling into your new job and home, and finding the right schools for your children, that achieving and maintaining wellness can be difficult – especially when you’ve recently moved away from the place you used to call “home”.
But what is wellness and what does it mean to families?
How can families achieve it when they’re busy settling in to their new home and country? And more importantly, how much do families prioritise their health and wellness when moving abroad?
To find out, international healthcare provider Aetna International, conducted in-depth interviews with 32 expat families from around the world to reveal the stories behind the statistics, and to explore which factors are important to a family’s wellness when living away from home.
This research, presented in the form of an infographic, which can be seen below, explores the numerous areas that affect expat family health and wellbeing. These include family and friends, diet and fitness, and mental health.
Diet and fitness
There are plenty of things to consider when trying to ensure you and your family maintain a healthy diet in a new country. For instance, accessing “familiar” foods may prove difficult depending on the host country. With that said, in many countries “familiar” foods and fresh produce are widely available due to global markets and transport logistics.
Cost of food and availability have a strong impact on expats wellbeing.
In the interviews, some families revealed that they had seen their diet improve because of the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables available to buy throughout the year. Other families found it more difficult to maintain a healthy diet due to the high cost and limited availability of fresh produce. From this, it’s clear that it is the cost of food, as well as the availability, that impacts how well expats are able to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Family and friends
Being far away from loved ones can have a negative impact on overall wellness.
Moving away from a place that you used to call “home” is never easy, but missing the simple aspects of life, like easily seeing family and friends, can be the most difficult part. In fact, part of the reason expats are more susceptible to mental health issues is due to the absence of family and friends, which is why ensuring you stay connected to your loved ones is essential – whether it’s via social media, video calls or telephone.
Mental health is something that can seriously affect our wellbeing, and it can be a particularly notable issue for expats. To ensure you and your family live a healthy and happy life abroad, taking the time to focus on mental health and wellbeing is essential. In the interviews, some expat families felt that mental health was not as well recognised or supported in their new country as they would have liked, where as other families felt very supported. To ensure you have the right kind of support in place as and when you need it, it can be helpful to look into the host country’s healthcare system in regard to how well mental health is supported.
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