Expat Musings Guest Posts

Beating the Blues to a Happier You: An Expat’s Guide

Greetings my little honey bees!  I cannot wait to share with you today’s guest post which comes from the ever so talented and really quite lovely Bonnie from A Compass Rose. Bonnie, is an expat living in Bath, England with her two boys and husband living and loving life in the UK.  I love and appreciate Bonnie’s approach to her blog, as she adds amazing tutorials for photography, honest thoughts on living abroad and being a third culture kid (TCK).  Bonnie and I work together on numerous projects, including Travel Tuesday {who doesn’t love that?}, and I have loved getting to know her better and I hope you feel the same.   I love this post about beating the expat blues in a practical way.  If you are an expat, or experiencing some “blues” for another reason check out Bonnie’s tips to lift your mood! 

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Bonnie Rose Photography © 2012 All Rights Reserved

My name is Bonnie Rose and I am the author behind the blog, A Compass Rose. I currently live the expat life with my husband and our two sons in Bath, England.  I have been quoted as saying numerous times how content I feel at life here in Europe.  Life has not always been so happy and includes such times when my father died and nearly going through a a divorce.  However I am here to say that with every down there is an up. Just because life may not be all sunshine and roses, it does not mean the rest of your life will follow suite.  Even living the expat life there are moments that will make me sad and put me in a sour mood.  The silver lining being that there are ways to beat the blues.

Being sad is a human reaction.  It does not require a traumatic experience to precede it. We can be burdened with the blues for many reasons which can be circumstantial or situational.  Perhaps you have quite a bit on your plate and the the stress is piling up.  Or seasonal blues offset by the cold winter seasons and being stuck in doors.  It could just be down to the fact that it is that time of the month. Before you resign to the the fact that life is perpetually unfair and miss out on life’s adventures, read through theses steps below.  Perhaps you will find you have held the power all along to beat the blue for a happier you.

1. Recognize the Sadness.  

Knowing and realizing you have a problem is the first step to a happier you.  When you are sad it can affect may areas of your life.  You may act out because of the sadness.  Perhaps even saying or doing things that are out of character.  Recognize the signs and realize you need to change.  If you cannot recognize it in yourself can you see how it is affecting those around you?

2.  Get Physical Pt. I

As much as I would like to forget exercising the bottom line is I always feel better after a really good workout.  For this reason my favourite time of the day to exercise is in the morning  or early afternoon.  I get the endorphins needed for a boost of happiness and then no longer have the need of exercising to be looming over my shoulders for the rest of the day. It is accomplished and I can reap the benefits.

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2012 All Rights Reserved

No gym required.  Some of the best times in my fitness past have been when I have not acquired a gym membership and have worked out from home or outside.  There are so many free online workouts that require nothing more from you than willingness and your own body weight.  Need an edge? Add weights.  Secret tip: You do not have to spend a lot to start weight training.  Before my husband got his weights he got sand and filled ziplock bags that were wrapped in duct tape.  These homemade sand bags were then able to fill up a duffel bag for weight training.  It is just one way you can have a home gym at whatever budget you can afford.  The point is that you do not need to hide behind excuses.  Find your need, use your drive, and get creative.

3. Get Physical Pt. II

There are so many aspects to our life and health  and one forgotten aspect could be the underlining reason for feeling down.  As I do not know who will be reading this and where your views on this subject lie, I will lead in with this question “Are you in a committed relationship?’  Has it been a been a little while since you were last intimate?  As a mum of two kids and a marriage of about ten years I can attest that sometimes I will look back over the last few weeks and wonder why we have not had as much sex as we would have liked.  When you thrown in crazy work schedules, raising two boys, and the day to day stress it can bit a damper on needs that should be met.  Just as exercise is an important facet of a vibrant life, so is a healthy sex life.  Remember that saying, “Couples that play together, stay together.”

4. Make Yourself Beautiful.

Everyone has their own perception of beauty.  I do not aim to say that one’s manifest of body image is better than another.  That would be getting off topic.  It is important that you take time for yourself.  Perhaps you work from home and find that you are battling the blues.  Combat that every morning by getting up, washing away your negative thoughts in the shower, dressing in clothes that make you feel good and getting ready to embrace the day.  Whether you will be running errands out later or if you will be the only one to see yourself that day.  If this does not apply to you, find ways to make yourself feel beautiful. Perhaps treat yourself to a face or hair mask, paint your nails, or try out that new shade of lipstick.  Remember that it is not about covering up, but about bringing yourself out and finding that smile.

5. Write it Down.

There is nothing like the release we get from writing down whatever is on our heart, minds, and souls to help us feel better about a situation.  Even if you cannot talk it out with someone else being able to put pen to paper or type the words out can be so therapeutic.   I wrote this blog post out using the free programme, Ommwriter.  It takes up your whole computer screen, hides all the tabs, windows and notifications.  Ommwriter gives you a place to focus on your writing with the ability to control your writing environment through music, sounds, and the visual writing base.  Whether you choose to write online or in a journal with a pen, write out your feelings.  Own them.  It is okay to be sad and it is okay to hurt. However, it is also okay to want something more and to work towards your happiness.

6.  Take a Time Out.

Social aspects are needed as human beings but to be the best for others we definitely need some alone time.  Feeling the blues?  Take a time out and get outside.  Take a walk or go for a run. I live by Solsbury Hill (like the Peter Gabriel song) and love to hike up to the top with my music player and just enjoy the views of the towns below while I clear my head.  I like to focus on fresh air and sunshine.  I focus on breathing  and soak up the needed vitamin D from the sun.  I may even combine number 5  from this list and write while I am outside.  I pretty much use the same thinking as when I put my own kids in a needed time out.  Sometimes you just need to get out of a situation to be able to focus back on the positivity.

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2012 All Rights Reserved

7. Schedule a Date.  It is always great to have something to look forward too so find an excuse and mark it down in your calendar.  Perhaps it will be a coffee date with a friend in town, a dinner date with your partner, or a family outing for the weekend.  Some of my favourite times are just the country walks I take on the weekends with my husband and sons.  We may have a busy week where we do not get to see a lot of each other and when we do it can be filled with stress the things that have to get done.  However once we get outside and spend hours walking around the English countryside I fall in love all over again with England and our expat life abroad.  Find something and the person or people you want to share those moments with because that is what life is about.  The memories.

Final Note: I close this by saying I am not a medical professional and I speak only from personal experience.  So many other issues can be a factor when it comes to being sad.  Something as easy to fix as your diet and the things you ingest to things beyond your control that may need a medical professional.  I have experienced both realms of that spectrum.  After the death of my father and during a trying time in my marriage I was prescribed medication for depression and anxiety. I understand if this list may not lead you to the finish line in your journey to Beating the Blues to a Happier You.  However it is one step in the right direction. These are things that I need to be reminded every now and again when life gets a bit rocky.  I no longer need to take medications or seek therapy, but look out for the signs for what little tweaks I can make in my life to get it back on track.  Remember life is not always easy and it is not meant to be perfect.  If you strive for perfection, or judge your life on the basis of others, I find the outcome usually ends messy.  Focus on the positive and what you love most about life.

Connect with Bonnie Rose:

*Photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved |www.bonnie-rose.co.uk

Be sure to pop over to A Compass Rose, and say hello to Bonnie!! You’ll love what you read!

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  • Gosh I love this!!!! I think this is one of the best things I’ve read on this subject! It is all so true. Right now I am back in my home country and now my partner is an expat (it was the other way round last year) so this is great advice for both of us! Thanks for sharing 😀

    • Oh so glad Lisa. I was a little nervous is in writing this piece for whatever reason and to know that I touched at least one person makes me glad I sent it to Belinda. I know I need to be reminded sometimes of these things and usually turns whatever funk i am in right around and back to smiling. 🙂 x

  • Susanne V.

    Beautiful post. I love the line: “If you strive for perfection, or judge your life on the basis of others, I find the outcome usually ends messy.” I used to do that, and I sometimes still catch myself doing it, but it doesn’t make me happy with myself in any way. It only makes me unhappier.
    I have to say, these are some great tools to get rid of the blues and be happy again. Thanks for this post!

    • Its so much easier to compare with others than to look at our own life. Which sadly is what happens to a lot of us. So keep focusing on your own merit and your own happiness. 🙂

  • i love that you addressed this bonnie! often times we can get down for what seems like no reason at all but when we really think about it, we many times find SOMETHING. and finding that something is a huge step to feeling better about everything! oh and i also love get physical…part two. it’s a whole lot more important than we give it credit!

    • Thats the part that got me nervous about writing…but so so so important. Especially when life gets really busy. Nothing like addressing that push away my blues. 😉

  • Janelle Halfpenny

    This is such a great post Bonnie, in such a timely season for me. I have just moved to London and don’t know anyone. It is so easy to get into a state of depression because you feel like there is nothing or no one around you. You have given some very practical and easy tips on how to battle being unhappy. Thanks so much!

    • It can be so easy to get down when you are in a new place. I’ve been here for 6 months already and I still can get a case of ‘cabin fever’ when I havent left the house much. Just getting outside and doing something spontaneous can really turn things around. Hope you are having a good transition in London. 🙂

  • Casey

    Great advice Bonnie! I think also sometimes to just take a moment to yourself and look around you and see how lucky we are to be living is a powerful reminder to pull ourselves out of sad situations.

    • Indeed. Sadness doesnt have to be a definition, it can be a moment and we can turn it around and find something else to focus our hearts and minds on.

  • Great post! I feel the same way sometimes, homesickness is normal but these are hands down the best way to beat it!

    • Thank you I hope you find them helpful. Usually if I can go through that list and try them all, one of them is going to turn my mood right around. 🙂

  • Rachel Murphree

    This is great advice, whether you’re homesick or just feeling blue at home! Great post!

    • Thank you Rachel. Simple tricks that could work anywhere you may find yourself when the blues hit. x

  • Thanks Bonnie for this. I think your advice was spot on and full of practical advice that is pretty much guaranteed to be a mood-booster, even if only for a little bit of time. I especially like that you said make yourself look good for you. I always feel better when I feel I look good — even if I’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone. I just carry myself differently. That coupled with your advice of exercising more are things that I would like to do more often! Thanks! 🙂