The Expat Balancing Act: Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

When you think of life as an expat, what comes to your mind? Perhaps it’s sipping cocktails by a hotel pool with a computer in lap, or bartending under a cabana on the beachside? Maybe you envision working a few hours in the morning from a pleasant, air-conditioned apartment before enjoying the rest of your (entire) day relaxing and adventuring.

But is it that simple? The quick answer? “No.” But what constitutes a healthy expat balancing act, and how can you achieve it?

Excessive Partying May Increase Stress

The importance of balance by Talysha Bradshaw
The importance of balance by Talysha Bradshaw

Being an expat and digital nomad is the best choice I’ve ever made. But there’s more to think about than what kind of umbrella cocktail you’ll order.

Everybody knows about finding a remote job, packing the essentials, choosing a suitable destination… but very few expats talk about finding a good work-life balance as an expat and focusing on your mental and physical well-being.

How much partying is too much? Drink specials, free pub crawls, and drinking games are everywhere. Getting tangled up in this type of social life is common.

I’ve also known people to party in order to forget about responsibilities or issues in their lives. But these destructive behaviors and coping mechanisms may end up making problems worse.

Beachlife as an Expat? by
Beachlife as an Expat? by

Should we take on a larger workload to avoid partying then? The answer, of course, is no!

When we overwork ourselves, we ignore our other needs. This can lead us to become irritable, tired and stressed.

What can we do about this delicate balancing act? How do we go about finding the sweet spot between not just working hard but being successful and happy and limiting partying while maintaining a healthy social life?

Sometimes this can feel impossible if I’m being honest. So, enough with the questions; here are a few tips on how to juggle work with play, reduce binge-drinking and partying, and take care of your physical and mental health!

Expat Balancing Act: Focus on Your Physical Health

What can you do to maintain a healthy expat lifestyle? It is often a delicate balancing act. Staying active and eating a wholesome, nutritious diet is the key to maintaining good health. Whether you swim in a pool, surf in the ocean, run on the street, sign up for a gym, play volleyball, or do jumping-jacks at home, just get moving! Getting into a routine is best for some people, while others join an exercise group or switch up their activity every now and again. Make it fun, make it creative, try something new.

Now, with this comes diet. Eating healthy as a traveler isn’t always easy. There are plenty of deep-fried dishes, fatty street foods, and countless new desserts to try. But there are plenty of ways to eat healthy. Try cooking your own meals, or seek a trendy new vegan joint. Limit the fatty foods lacking veggies and switch out a dessert for a piece of fruit every so often. Don’t bother saying you can’t afford it, because by cutting back on the junk food, and (my next point) on budgeting alcohol, you will create the extra room in your budget for a healthy diet!

Expat Balancing Act: Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Chang Beer Thailand by Talysha Bradshaw
Chang Beer Thailand by Talysha Bradshaw

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t party—and sometimes it’s heaven to have a beer after work. Yet often in the expat world, a Friday can feel like a Monday and Monday can feel like Saturday.

It’s important to allow yourself only a certain amount of days to get your buzz on, otherwise, you may get lost in the party scene.

I suggest setting a weekly alcohol budget for yourself. This may help you be more conscious of those one or two beers you get throughout the day. How about how the binging you allow yourself to get on weekends?

You will have more energy, you won’t feel so groggy and irritable, and you will save loads of money by following this little piece of advice—and you might even wake up early enough one morning to get that free breakfast at your hostel!

Expat Balancing Act: Establish Work Boundaries and Time Off

My Roommate on Her Laptop at Our Poolby Talysha Bradshaw
My Roommate on Her Laptop at Our Pool by Talysha Bradshaw

Whether you work at a party hostel or from your laptop, it is essential that you don’t overwork yourself.

It’s okay to say “no” to working overtime, and it’s okay to set client’s expectations accordingly. Prioritize days off for rest and fun. Make sure that you use that me-time to explore your beautiful host country, mixing with the local people, trying new foods, and learning something new.

Get out of your hostel bar! Venture from your apartment with A/C and Netflix and volunteer somewhere. Check out the new food market stalls and talk to some kids. Wander. Explore.

Balancing Act: Find an Outlet of Spirituality, Therapy, or Relaxation

Many travelers don’t put aside the time to ground themselves and rest their minds. This means focusing on your mental health.

Monks at Angkor Wat, Cambodia by Talysha Bradshaw
Monks at Angkor Wat, Cambodia by Talysha Bradshaw

I love meditation because it allows me to be completely alone with my thoughts and face any stress or worries in a peaceful space. I enjoy listening to guided meditations or sitting comfortably by myself in nature and letting my thoughts flow.

You can even do this in the shower, it doesn’t have to be a big ritual. A few other suggestions may be yoga, a quiet walk alone in nature, crafting or making art, talking or sound therapy, or attending a church ceremony if you are looking for a peaceful place.

Now that you eat healthy and exercise, have a more structured social life and work life, have more time for yourself to explore the world around you, and have a therapeutic outlet, you are ready to live your very best life as an expat! That may be a mouthful, but the nomadic lifestyle is wonderful and positively life-changing… if you take care of yourself and keep your adventurous side alive!

What is your expat work-life balance like? What are your modes of relaxation and recharging your batteries? Do you eat healthily in your host country or when you’re traveling? Share your experiences with us.

by: Talysha Bradshaw