We don’t often say it, but moving abroad is hard. If you’ve marvelled at why so many people tell you that you’re « so brave » before moving, this is the reason! You’re leaving your comfort zone at a young age to make your way alone in a new city. It’s definitely worth congratulating yourself for. But, what do you do when you’re feeling less that good?
In this post, we’ll suggest a few ways in which you can look after your mental health during your au pair year. We’re always interested in hearing more tips, so get in touch with us via Instagram to tell us how you protect your mental health!
Hang Out With Your Host Family
Yep, it may sound counterintuitive as this can feel draining but if your host family are kind, then spending more time with them may actually make you feel better. Why not suggest watching a film together, cooking and eating dinner together, or simply being in the same room. It may feel awkward, but an evening spent with other people rather than locked up in your bedroom can make you feel better.
Furthermore, if you have something on your mind, try discussing it with your host parents. Letting them know how you feel may be daunting, but it could result in you having a better understanding of each other. Try telling them when you’re feeling particularly homesick and what you miss about your home country.
Go for a Long Walk (Preferably with a Dog)
Walking is great for your physical and mental health. Walking around your new town or city will also help you get to know the local area better. Make sure you have maps downloaded onto your phone or have enough data to help you get home if you wander off course, then just go! Step outside, maybe listen to some music, and try to focus on the sights, smells, and sounds around you. This is similar to a gratefulness walk, focus on the best things that have happened to you in your life so far!
Of course, if your host family has a dog, then taking them with you is even better than going alone. You won’t feel lonely, you’ll have a happy companion by your side, and you’ll be doing your host family a favor. Dogs are great at reminding us to enjoy the current moment and go with the flow. When you feel low, make sure you give the nearest dog a cuddle.
Learn a New Skill and Fill Your Free Time
One of the most difficult aspects of becoming an au pair is the abundance of free time. Although it can feel like a blessing when you’re whiling the time away, hopping across town with a new BFF, it can SUCK when you’re simply stuck in your bedroom.
We suggest filming videos of your year, taking up art or poetry, throwing yourself into your language learning, or using this time to pursue a hobby or dream you’ve never dared to before. Alternatively, why not consider finding a part time job? While I was living in Berlin, I managed to find freelance work that beautifully supplemented my income and helped me boost my CV. Let us know the skills you’ve gained as an au pair over on the APOP Open Forum!
Speak to a Professional
Finally, if you are struggling with your mental health, then it’s time to speak to a professional. You don’t need to tell your host family this if you don’t want to, but they may be able to help you find the right therapist. Alternatively, book an appointment with your doctor (you may have to ask your host parents to do this for you) and speak to them, they will then be able to direct you to the right person.
If this isn’t an option for you, then check out the many options online. There is a lot of therapy online now, especially thanks to Covid-19. Find someone who you feel comfortable talking to and make sure you book a few appointments. Although it may seem expensive, if it helps you, this is the best way to spend your au pair pocket money.
Are you interested in reading more tips? Check out this blog post from Au Pair, Oh Paris. Furthermore, make sure to get in touch with your agency if you are struggling with your mental health and need advice.
Find here more blog post about life as an au pair !