Many foreigners in Korea go through periods where life spirals out of their control and they develop anxiety and other mental health battles. If you are struggling with anxiety, let’s face this together. Here are some of the things I have done to help get my life back in my control and maybe they can do the same for you.
Mental health. It’s a topic that is as talked about as it is taboo. The thing with this topic is that every single person on this planet is different and that what works for some, doesn’t for others. But I believe that sharing our experiences makes us stronger and that if it worked for me, it may work for someone else too.
I have been diagnosed with seasonal depression and anxiety. So, I’m talking from experience when I say there are just some days where nothing seems right. I have had a couple of those down days in Korea, and today I will tell you what I have done to cope with my symptoms.
Coming to Korea was a big change for me in all aspects of my life.
I had to learn to live by myself, to manage money so it lasts through the month, and to study hard so I can keep up with the courses I was taking. All of that in a new country where I was mostly by myself. I didn’t speak the language (I still can’t have a conversation in Korean) Needless to say, I feel isolated.
So, naturally, my body and mind went into a state of lockdown. My energy levels dropped and I started feeling drained and sleepy. That’s when I knew something was up with my anxiety and that I needed to work on it –besides medication. I needed something to change so that I could keep living my new life and actually enjoy it.
In consequence, I ended up going in my mind through the methods I had worked on in my therapy when I went to seek professional help. I found three methods I could use to get my anxiety levels to subside.
Seoul’s scenery is one of a kind. You will stumble upon a temple in the middle of a city filled with the newest buildings, and then a park with a mountain you can go hiking in.
So, the first thing I did was take the subway and hop off at a station of my liking. I always make sure to carry my earphones and that my phone is sufficiently charged so I can find my way back home. And then, I walk.
I made a playlist on Spotify that is just perfect for reducing anxiety. It is full of calming sounds of soothing voices. On the way, I’d get a coffee and sip on it slowly until I feel the refreshing calm of the day.
It may sometimes feel like life doesn’t stop. But music and walking make me realize that I control my life.
I used to write a little thing about my day every day when I was back home, but I fell out of practice once coming here.
Truth is, life here is hectic and difficult at first. Figuring stuff out and the stress of surprise challenges can make you feel like you are drowning. So when I felt like that, I opened my journal and just made a list of all my feelings.
The next day, I would go back on it, after sleeping. Then, I would try to find a solution for the problems that were causing those feelings. Keeping an open mind and a less challenged heart.
Whenever I couldn’t find the answer, I would write the feeling/problem on a whiteboard so I could revise it another time, and I would get back to solving the problems that I could.
I like to call it “a problem at a time”. You occupy your mind with something you can actually solve, and while doing so you get rid of the anxious feeling. It also makes space for things that seem to not have a solution to unravel themselves.
Find something that makes you fly, but at the same time that you can control. Try a new sport, or do something you’ve been wanting to get into.
I started knitting again. The upside of it is that I can watch a TV show, and all the while I am making a cardigan for the fall season. To be honest, it helps a lot. Having a little time to yourself is never a bad idea. We all need it ever so often, and it’s a way of keeping yourself from falling into the routine of not spending time relaxing and just being with yourself.
Just paint a little each day, or read some pages of the book you’ve been wanting to start reading. Set a ten-minute clock and try to meditate, go for a run, or watch an episode of the latest show you’ve been watching. The day has 24 hours, I think it’s fair you give yourself a little of that for only your personal growth.
Finally, I wanna help you get to a mental state in which you can help others and yourself. Anxiety is not a part of you, but it will accompany you for a while –sometimes longer– so learning how to cope with it is an essential part of your journey. Everyone has different ways of coping with anxiety, so the tips I’ve given may not work for you. If you need to find your own methods and don’t know where to start, therapy can help.
If you don’t have a therapist and are seeking professional help in Seoul, I found a link to a webpage filled with therapists in Seoul that speak English. Feel free to Click Here and find out more if you need to. If you would like to meet with an affordable counselor provided by the Seoul Global Center, Click Here.
And, please, don’t be afraid of asking for help. We are all going through life, so a little help never hurts.