A global study has helped to identify that expatriate health is deteriorating in certain key locations worldwide where there is a high proportion of immigration. The UAE is one destination where it has been identified that expat health is worsening, and locally experts have suggested certain key reasons for the development of this trend.
The reasons are non-exclusive to the UAE – and because expats seem acutely affected by deteriorating health, we feel it’s imperative that the factors are highlighted and explored so that we can all fight to stop the deterioration of expatriate health globally.
After all, if nothing else poor health puts a strain on an expat’s budget in the form of increasing health care costs and life insurance premiums! And in this global economic climate, none of us wants to do anything to increase our costs. Read on to learn how your expat lifestyle could mean you’re facing ill health unless you make radical changes today.
Why is Expatriate Health Deteriorating?
If you’re living abroad chances are your lifestyle has changed; after all there’s a real need to socialise when you arrive in a new location in order to make friends for example.
Excessive socialising can lead to alcohol and drug related problems and disturbed sleep patterns. These can have a knock on effect at work and at home and increase stress levels. As we now all know, stress is the silent killer – and it can affect every element of your wellbeing.
Findings from a worldwide epidemiological study called the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, has revealed that of the 1,505 participants specifically surveyed in the UAE, health is deteriorating…and expatriate health is worsening perhaps most rapidly.
Hypertension was one area where levels were much higher in the UAE than in the rest of the world, with expats acutely affected – and this tied in with local findings from the UAE’s Ministry of Health where according to the doctors, the number of expat patients has increased during the last two years.
According to Dr Azzan Bin Braik, a consultant cardiologist at Rashid Hospital: “It could be an increase in the expat population in the UAE. But other factors such as work related stress, depression and financial losses could also be contributing to the problem.”
So, on the one hand expats are facing long-term health problems brought on by their ‘need’ to socialise to make friends and meet people – and on the other hand the stresses of every day life today (i.e., work related/job security worries, financial tension etc.,) are also affecting an expatriate’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
Why YOU Need to be Concerned About this Issue
All of this adds up to a reality none of us can choose to ignore – expats are facing very real and deteriorating health issues. Your health is in your hands ultimately…and unless you actively choose to make changes to your way of life, you will fall into the trap of sickness. And if these words are not enough motivation for you to make a change – think about it this way…
We are all being squeezed economically speaking – from increasing inflation and taxes to decreasing job security and profitability. Who then wants to see health insurance premiums increase as a result of pre-existing conditions – and who wants to watch their life insurance premiums rocket because of the same?
If you can’t see that your lifestyle is impacting on your health because after all, your brain, heart, liver and kidneys are internal and therefore invisible – have a look at your bank balance and see how your lifestyle is causing you problems right there!
You may be spending too much on going out, losing work and pay because of hangovers and stress. You may be being affected from multiple angles – but rather than feeling like a victim in all of this, wake up and smell the (decaffeinated!) coffee…you have the power to change your life right there in your own hands!
Small Differences that can Make ALL the Difference
Here’s how you can make small but very effective and lasting changes to your lifestyle and your health. And note: great big grand gestures generally fail; it’s the small changes that make the real, long-lasting differences.
- Find a hobby that will keep you at home for at least one extra night a week – from cross-stitch to scrabble, from playing on your Wii to redecorating the house. One less night down the pub is one more night of better health!
- Banish alcohol from your home – if you want a drink you’ll have to go out – but see the above point, DON’T go out every night!
- If you’re finding it a struggle then try ‘only’ socialising every other night…enforce this rule on yourself and instead of a rule it will soon become routine.
- Ask your friends, colleagues and work family to support you.
- Walk to work – or if that’s not possible, take the stairs rather than the lift at work and in the mall…every single time without exception…you’ll be surprised how much of a difference this will make in a short space of time.
- Think about how many calories you imbibe in liquid format – from sugar laden soft drinks to fat filled coffees, from high calorific value beer to surprisingly ‘fattening’ wine – cut back on every single one to see a big difference in a short space of time.
- Skinny up your milk intake – swapping from full fat to semi or from semi to skimmed tastes funny for about a week only…and then it becomes your norm.
- Spring clean your store cupboard and banish high calorie, low nutritional value foods. What were they doing in there in the first place? How can you expect your body to function properly and feel ‘well’ when you fill it with rubbish? If you put petrol in a diesel car it won’t run – same thing for your body, only fill it with the right fuel.
- Have salad instead of fries on the side.
- Think carefully about treats and rewards – yes, if you’ve had a hard day you deserve a treat, but have a frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream – or better yet, go for a nice walk with your family or the dog and reward yourself with some proper ‘down time.’
- Join a fitness club or class – from bowls to cycling, pilates to climbing – get out there and do it and meet a whole new crowd who may easily lead you into a healthier lifestyle naturally.
- Actively make small substitutions in every area of your life – substitute the chips for vegetable sticks in your lunch box. Substitute mayo for low fat mayo. Substitute a coffee for a healthy caffeine free tea. Substitute the escalator for the stairs. Substitute a night out on the town for a night in. Substitute a night in front of the TV for a night doing chores around the house or in the garden.
- And remember, small changes that you can make into part of your routine will make the biggest, lasting changes for life.
We’re facing a ticking time bomb of ill health – but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone. If lifestyle factors are potentially affecting your health, you have the power to make small but key changes to your life to ensure you give yourself the very best chance of a positive and healthy life.
Whilst we all age and of course ultimately die (cheerful!), whilst we’re on this earth we may as well enjoy our time and that means we need to feel fit, happy and healthy otherwise everything is a struggle and nothing is enjoyable. P.s., drink more water! Have a water filter jug and glass close at hand in the kitchen or on your desk, and make it a rule to drink water throughout the day…just get into the habit!