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Five mindfulness practices for expats

Moving abroad offers an exciting opportunity to live a happier and healthier life. But how can you make sure that you’re enjoying the experience to its fullest? That’s where practising mindfulness can help.

Five mindfulness practices for expats
Photo: Pixabay

According to psychological health expert, Eugene Farrell, mindfulness is all about being fully present and aware of your surroundings. By practising mindfulness daily, you can enjoy the scientifically-proven benefits it can have on your overall wellbeing. 

“Being mindful is one of the most ancient practices around the world and is practised by Buddhist monks. Its simplicity and effectiveness make it the perfect antidote to the demands of 21st Century life. Some small steps in the right direction could be a step change in your life,” says Eugene.

Here are five top tips on how mindfulness can help you make the most of your new life abroad, brought to you by AXA – Global Healthcare and The Local.

1. Mindful walks

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo/pexels.com

Living in a new country means there are a lot of new places to discover. Mindful walks are a great way to explore the natural scenery or appreciate the culturally-rich architecture of your new home. Mindful walking is all about shifting your focus from stresses about the past and future, to the present moment. There are many ways to take a mindful walk, and as long as you are focussed on the moment – you are doing it right. 

One method of mindful walking is to take notice of the sights and sounds around you: “Focus on the colour of your surroundings, the movements of your body and any noises you can hear. Can you hear people, animals or children? Can you feel the sun or a breeze? Do you notice any smells? Notice how you move into different spaces,” suggests Eugene.

Find out how AXA’s health plans can give you peace of mind abroad

2. Mindful check-ins

Practising mindfulness can improve both our mental and physical health, which in turn can help us to improve our overall life – but it’s still important to have a sense of self-awareness and seek professional help when you need it. 

Regular doctor check-ups are important, even if just for peace of mind. With AXA – Global Healthcare, you can have access to the virtual doctor service, whenever you need it. Speak to a qualified doctor online or over the phone, 24 hours a day, from wherever you are.

3. Mindful eating

Photo: Kaboompics.com/pexels.com

One of the best parts of moving to a new country is trying the local food. Although enjoying a meal is important, mindful eating helps ensure you are eating right and making healthy choices. 

According to nutritionist Georgina Camfield, it’s important to listen to your body: “Eat when you feel hungry and stop eating when you’re starting to feel full. By only eating when you need to, you’re giving your body the rest it needs to regenerate cells and boost healthy gut bacteria, both of which will help digestion in the long run.”

4. Mindful sleep

Getting enough sleep can have a positive impact on your day by improving your mood. To ensure you get enough sleep, start by creating a sleep routine; this can be done by setting an alarm clock to remind you to get to bed, and try to avoid screen time at least two hours before bedtime.

Sports nutritionist Thomas Rothwell says: “Sleep should be spoken about in the same light as physical activity and nutrition when it comes to our health and wellbeing. To put this into perspective, poor sleep is associated with fat gain, diabetes, heart disease and reduced productivity and mental skills.” 

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5. Mindful breathing

Photo: Kelvin Valerio/pexels.com

Adapting to life in a new country can be difficult. There’s so much to take in and at times this can be stressful. Mindful breathing is an easy and effective way to deal with stress and anxiety.

“The solution is to take time each day, say 10 minutes during your commute or with breakfast – to focus on your breathing. This will allow you to calm your mind and body from the daily grind, clearing your head to think differently,” says Eugene.

Looking after your health should always be a priority, especially when you’re adjusting to a new environment. Finding the right health insurance policy can put your mind at rest, making the whole process a little easier. To find out about AXA’s international health insurance visit their website today.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

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HEALTH

READERS REVEAL: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

We asked our readers in Norway to share with us their experiences of the Nordic country's healthcare system.

Pictured is a stethoscope
Here's what foreign residents think of the Norwegian healthcare system. Pictured is a stethoscope. Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Most healthcare in Norway is covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, with residents paying a small service charge for health care costs. For example, a consultation with a GP costs 160 kroner

Once you’ve paid more than 2,460 kroner in approved user fees, then you will receive an exemption card with all treatment covered by the national insurance scheme after that being free. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Overall, 46.2 percent of respondents to our straw poll said that they had bad experiences with the healthcare system, while 15 percent said they had good encounters. The same proportion, 15 percent, answered in the “neither good nor bad experiences” and “very bad experiences” categories, while seven percent said they had very good experiences. 

Among the positive aspects of the Norwegian healthcare system that readers told us about were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, good quality service and giving birth. 

“Doctors take the time to explain the situation and solutions. Avoiding antibiotics as much as possible is a great strategy,” George from Lysaker responded. 

Another reader who had broken their ankle praised the healthcare system and the human way in which they were treated. 

“I had an accident, and I seriously broke my ankle, the Norwegian system did the best it could. The people who treated me were polite and very human, they really cared,” the reader wrote. 

May from Ålesund praised the fact that they could get a same-day appointment with their fastlege (GP). However, this wasn’t the case for everyone (see below). 

In an earlier survey on healthcare in the country, readers also praised doctors’ bedside manner and the excellent facilities. 

While one reader praised the short waiting times for a GP, others said they had experienced the opposite. Waiting times were the biggest issue cited by readers, with one person who didn’t want to be named saying they waited a year for neurological testing. 

Anotehr reader said they had waited a long time to be assigned a doctor. 

“I moved from Oslo to Tromsø, and I am currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no slots for a doctor? Everyone has the right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø wrote.

READ MORE: Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

Sivakumar also complained about the lack of appointments. 

“It’s not possible to get an appointment. There is always a waiting time. They are also not proactive in assessment,” Sivakumar added that while identifying issues wasn’t straightforward the care received once the problem was found was exceptional. 

Others said they experienced difficulties accessing GPs.

“Having to constantly contact and chase to book appointments or change appointments, and often having ‘no diagnosis’ or being left to try things without any follow-up (is a problem),” Simon, from Oslo, responded.

What could be improved upon?

There were several things that readers thought could be made better. For example, many want dentistry included in the national insurance scheme, as well as shorter waiting times and cheaper medicines. 

“Free dental healthcare, more efficient diagnosis and treatment and lower cost of medications” were some of the things one reader told us that needed to be improved. 

Simon from Oslo wanted better aftercare. 

“Aftercare and case resolution, not having issues left unknown or untreated. If a diagnosis can’t be made, send me to a specialist and follow up,” he responded when asked what could be better. 

Sinead from Tromsø was among a number of readers who wanted to see more slots for doctors so they could be appointed a GP. 

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