No matter where you are, you’re going to experience some days that aren’t as great as others. People the world over are going through some ups and downs at the moment, and while things seem to be improving in China, down days are common here, even during normal times. In China, these so-called “Bad China Days” can result from a myriad of factors, whether it’s the stress of the language barrier, homesickness, relationship troubles, or work pressures. No matter the reason, there are several pro-active steps to take to get over the blues while in China. Let’s take a look.
Source: hannah k
“Mind over matter” is a common approach when dealing with hard times, but “body over matter” has its place too. Physical activity promotes serotonin and dopamine activity in your brain which helps alleviate stress and improve mood. While your gym may still be closed, most of us are now able to go out for a run or a walk in the fresh air. Even doing a 20-minute at-home yoga session will allow your mind to take a break while your body is engaged in a physical activity. Exercise might not be a cure-all solution, but it’s a great place to start if you’ve been feeling low.
Talking, or in some cases, “venting”, might be just what you need to get out from under your dark cloud. Now people in China are finally going out again, you’ll find that putting in the effort to maintain a good network of friends will provide you with ample opportunity to take your mind off your worries, even if just for an evening. If you’re still in quarantine or not so keen on going out right now, reach out to your online community instead and schedule video calls with your nearest and dearest across the world.
Too often, we try to managing everything by ourselves. But at the end of the day, humans are social creatures that need face-to-face interactions in order to have positive and healthy lives. When you feel ready to start expanding your social network in China, think about saying yes more often to invites from friends, going to events like a trivia night, taking a cooking class, attending a lecture/speech, or taking part in any group activity that will give you the chance to meet more people. There are plenty of websites and WeChat groups that can keep you up to date with the happenings in whatever Chinese city you’re based in, so use these resources and get out there.
If you’re having down days more often than you’re having good days, think about where you’re spending the majority of your time. Spending 40 hours a week (or more) at our jobs has a more significant impact on our mental health than we often realize. Maybe you’re working too much, your boss is unbearable, or you just don’t like the career path you’ve chosen.
Granted, changing jobs is easier said than done in China, especially when transferring a work visa, but with so many foreigners currently out of China, either by choice or force, there are currently plenty of companies looking for expat workers. At the very least, taking a close look at how your happiness relates to your work could set you up for making better job-related choices in the future.
Sometimes, a bad situation has a direct effect on how we feel. Other times, it’s a culmination of our habits and daily routine that slowly chips away at our mental health. Especially in recent times, many of us in China have seen our usual schedule go out the window, which can have a seriously unbalancing effect.
Consider how much sleep you’re getting, what time you’re getting up in the morning, the amount of physical exercise you do per week, how much time you spend with other people vs. alone, and how often you talk with your loved ones. It’s easy to get caught up in an unhealthy routine, especially when we’re stressed and working long hours. Changing up your routine may not only stimulate your mind but also have a positive effect on your mood. These things might seem small or insignificant when taken on their own, but added together they can drastically improve a negative mindset.
As a foreigner in China, you’re never alone in having a rough day or a general feeling of unhappiness. If the tips mentioned above haven’t helped, it’s worth considering talking to a professional or finding a support group, especially if you’ve recently suffered a trauma, such as the death of a loved one or a bad break up. Whatever it is you’re going through, other people have invariably experienced the same or similar.
If you find yourself having a lot of bad days in China, it may be a symptom of a deeper rooted problem. Psychological health is as important as physical health, and we should all take a look at the things in our lives from time to time in order to establish what can be tweaked to achieve a healthier and ultimately more positive mindset. Down days are something we all contend with, but if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get enough sunlight and enough sleep, consume positive content, and surround yourself with support, you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance. Down days are going to happen, that’s inevitable, especially in China, but by being aware of the things in our lives that have an impact on our mental health, we’ll be better equipped to make the changes we need in order to be happy.
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