Moving to a foreign country is an exciting time, particularly at the start, when you're settling into your new home.
Once the initial excitement wears off, however, life abroad can be challenging and lonely.
You'll be relieved to hear that this feeling is completely normal, and in time, will pass.
Here are some of my tried and tested ideas on how to handle expat loneliness.
Create a routine
Lack of structure in a new country can be tough to deal with, so avoid the temptation to hide out at home. I love researching things to do in South Africa and try to do at least one or two activities per week. If you are new to an area, think about a guided tour. Many cities, such as Cape Town, offer walking tours with a theme like street art, food, or history so you can indulge in a hobby, or try new things, as well as getting to know the city better.
I'm lucky that in South Africa there's an abundance of outdoor activities to do, such as surfing, hiking, and cycling. As well as being a great way to meet new people, exercising is also a great stress reliever and pumps up your endorphins.
Joining a local class or your nearest gym will help to support your routine and give some structure to your week.
Make friends and network
Leaving your trusted circle of friends back home can be tough, but that doesn't mean you can't make new friends in your host country. Apps such as Meetup are great for finding like-minded individuals who share the same interests as you. Expat service providers, such as Expat.com and Internations, also regularly host both in-person and online events for their members.
At work, take advantage of any invites to network with your new colleagues.
Indulge your hobbies
Whether you are into winter sports, board games, or wine tasting, there will be a club or association that caters to your interests in your new home country. Look online or on social media platforms for activities close to your home that you can get involved in. A great way to pursue your interests and passions, while combating loneliness.
We love having a house with a pool so that we can start, and end the day, with a swim to help us stay motivated. It also helps us to keep cool with the South African heat!
Prioritise your mental health
Too much time alone can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It's important to keep your symptoms in check and speak to a medical professional should you require help. Making time for meditation or mindfulness, turning off your mobile phone, or spending time outdoors, can all help support a positive mindset. Don't be afraid to also share your feelings with someone else, such as a partner, friend, or family member at home.
Expat loneliness can be reduced by meeting new people and attending events