Dealing With Anxiety Abroad

I’ve never really been one to say “I have anxiety,” because to be honest I don’t think I do. And I know I don’t need medication. Do I occasionally experience anxiety or an uneasy feeling that builds up inside me? Of course. I’m living in a completely different country where I don’t speak the language. It was inevitable for me to get some form of anxiety.

I’ve noticed I get it a lot more here than I have ever before. But I also realized that I handle it much better here than I did back at home. Here’s why.

At home I had many different crutches. I had my parents, sisters, friends, and fiancé. Here I have my fiancé who can’t always be what I need when I need it. So when I start to feel anxious or uneasy I go for a run, I remove myself from a situation, or I meditate. I have to turn to myself rather than other people. I’ve started talking to myself a whole lot more, which I already did a lot at home, but I’m okay with that.

I say, “Janine, you’re fine, breath in, breath out, start over.” Not having my parents around has been a lot harder than I thought. I was living with them before I left so I always had someone to lean on. But I think I leaned on them way too often. And it became paralyzing rather than helpful. I knew they’d be there for anything and everything.

My fiancé goes above and beyond to calm me down or help me through my breakdowns, and most times it works. Other times I know that it’s completely up to me to work it out. At home I would shrug it off and go out for a drink with some friends or drown myself in a new Netflix series (which Thomas and I still do).

anxiety abroad

I have to rely on myself and get to know myself a lot more to fully understand what’s going on inside. I started running again recently and it has transformed my mindset. Thomas and I work out six days a week, whether it’s lower body, upper body, yoga, whatever it might be, we do it. But sometimes I need more. Running always used to empower me and really elevate me in ways I never thought possible.

I swear I feel like I can fly when I go for a run. Even though it’s only three short miles, its 25 minutes of pure me time. I think that’s very important for everyone to have. Make more time for yourself. Even if it is only 15 to 20 minutes. Do something for you. But do something that’s going to change you, further your dreams, or contribute to a positive mindset. Don’t drown yourself in Netflix. Don’t turn to a bottle of wine to fix your problems. I was that person at home that would say to themselves, “Wow I really need a drink after my day today.” Why can’t it be, “Wow I really need a run after my day today. I really need to take a walk, or read a book.”?

Stop and think about things that bring you joy and things that really help shape you into the person you want to be. Use them and run with it (literally). Anxiety isn’t easy, but I believe there is no need for medication. Self care is all the medication you need.