How Living Abroad HELPED my Anxiety
For some of you who have followed me on my YouTube channel, you know that I've suffered from anxiety all my life. I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Anxiety is a heaviness on the mind as if something isn’t quite right when in reality, everything is fine. The wheels in my brain are constantly spinning and on an endless mission for something to overthink or worry about. I get distracted and have a hard time paying attention or focusing. It's almost as if I have another person inside of me - another voice in my head that won't stop talking.
Anxiety lies to you. It tells you negative things about yourself and others and puts you in situations that aren't as bad as they really are. Therefore, knowing that anxiety is a liar has helped keep my mind under control. But, GAD will always be a part of me and can`t be cured. I've learned to embrace GAD and learned to control it as if it were a superpower. I’m never perfect but I am always aware and improving.
I still have my slip-ups where my anxiety takes control but in the past few years, I've been able to notice more clearly what's happening to me. I'm able to shut those feelings down before they have the chance to consume me. It's a constant battle but I'm stronger for it. What I've learned while living in another country with GAD is that you have the ability to alter your emotions and mind. It just takes time and practice.
Now that you know a little about what I go through- having an unusually active mind - I am here to share with you my secret to controlling anxiety naturally.
HOW I BEGAN THE CURE
one way to help Anxiety is by moving abroad. I don't mean going on a few months trip or studying abroad for a year – although that's a great start- the cure is to actually live a long period of time in another country or place that's different from your own whether it makes you uncomfortable or not.
Japan - unlike most countries compared to mine -gave my mind a workout. Every day was a struggle despite having studied the culture for years prior. It forced me to quit anxiety cold turkey. I guess you can think of it as an intense workout for the brain. I had no choice but to take care of my living situation, find grocery stores, or use my still in progress Japanese language skills to get by. When you're put in a place out of your comfort zone and in situations where you have no choice - this is where the healing begins.
STARTING OVER AND FINDING MYSELF
Moving abroad allowed me to start fresh. I knew nobody; I was in a whole new place that was mine to discover and explore. It was like being reborn. I had to make new friends, start a new routine, and create new goals for the next few chapters in my life. I felt powerful and even though I struggled, I learned. I felt like I had this whole new platform to build a new foundation. Leaving America meant I could leave my past behind. Although, I knew there would be challenges ahead, I felt ready for them.
IT GOT WORSE BEFORE IT GOT BETTER
You know when you have a cold and you start to feel a scratch in your throat? It's that warning sign you feel in your body before you're about to experience a full-blown sickness.
Moving to Japan was exciting at first but once I was settled in I started to feel twinges of nervousness and reality came over me. This wasn't a vacation – this was real life.
Once I was able to get used to my surroundings and experience situations for the first time, I began to become more calm and relaxed when similar situations arose. This brought me to a place that kept my anxiousness at bay.
As time went on, there were several moments where I wanted to give up but I didn't because this was my dream. It was the motivation that kept me going. I forced myself to learn how to survive on my own in another country because I had a reason why. Having a reason why you're doing something is key and my reasons were to become more independent, lesson my anxiety, teach English in Japan, and become more proficient in the Japanese language.
Always know that even though things might be tough right now, they will get better. Have an end goal in mind and realize that others – somewhere out there - are going through the same thing as you. You are never alone.
I BECAME IN TOUCH WITH MY SURROUNDINGS
I moved to a new country and was now surrounded by beauty, nature, and interesting people. I took advantage of that and began to find ways to meet new friends from around the world, explore new places, and experience new things. I realized there were so many others who had moved here to do the same and reached out to expats on meetup apps and websites. Every day in Japan is exciting and I'm always learning something which keeps my body and mind occupied at all times. It shifts my thoughts on life and leads me to a place of peace.
I`d take walks in the woods, visit shrines, or go window shopping by myself to get in touch with life. I realized that by living here, I had become more mindful and grateful.
JAPAN IS A GREAT COUNTRY FOR ANXIOUS PEOPLE
In Japan, things are much more orderly than my own country. People keep to themselves, the trains are quiet - which allows for more relaxation time on the commute to work- and the service here is the best in the world. most natives are very caring, understanding, and selfless. I feel protected and at ease most days in this country.
Japan keeps you on your toes and I've grown so much in the past five years. I`ve learned about who I am on a deeper level. I connected with my mind and body in ways I couldn't have imagined. I discovered that there is so much the world can offer and it's a beautiful thing. Your opportunities are endless when you take that leap and break free from your bubble. I believe in my heart that everyone should experience life abroad at least for one time in their life. The benefits are unimaginable.
Have you ever lived abroad for a long period of time? If so, how did you cope and what did you discover about yourself?