How to Take Care of Your Mental Health as an OFW


As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) you are vulnerable to several Psychological conditions such a Substance Abuse, Depression, Anxiety, and Psychopathology. The sensitivity to these mental health issues were documented in the past.


In fact, a 2009 study highlighted that the majority of the participating domestic workers (including 27 Filipinos) were diagnosed with Acute and Transient Psychotic Disorder. The common stressors that they named were marital problems and homesickness.


On another note, the former president of the Philippine Psychiatrists Association, Dr. Lourdes Ignacio once said that “seamen were found to be the most vulnerable to mental disorders because they tend to rely on alcohol or drugs to ease their homesickness”.


The potential harm one’s well being is the reason why management of Mental Health is necessary. Take care of yourself by following these 8 tips:


1. Mind Your Thoughts


A technique that you can use to manage your Mental Health and ease your daily stress is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the objective and intentional focus of your attention to what is occurring now. Instead of perceiving your thoughts as quotation bubbles that drift away, perceive it as mental events. Be aware of these mental events and classify them into good or bad thoughts.


For instance, you can classify “worrying about not being at your child’s birthday party” as a bad thought because it is something that you have little control of.


2. Make It a Routine

make it a routine

Image Credit: Kevin Wells

Juggling the weight of your job and your family is a hard task that can overwhelm your humble mind. This is where Mindfulness comes in. Dance with your thoughts by practicing Yoga or by walking outdoors. Use this relaxing time to become aware of sensations created by the surroundings and the mental events created by your mind.


3. Live in the Present

live in the present

Image Credit: Getty Images

Mindfulness helps you to stay in touch with the present state to reduce your stress and anxiety and later improve your quality of life. Be mindful when you are talking to your husband on Skype, cooking a dish, or working at the office. Be mindful even to the little aspects of the day.


Because when you are mindful, you are open to living every present moment of your life. You free yourself from the problems of the past and the worries of the future. Harness this state by practicing for several minutes initially.


4. Take a Break


Have a break every once in awhile. Not only because you deserve a break, but also because it helps to maintain your sanity. The Mental Health Foundation states that a change of pace or a change in scenery is beneficial to your Mental Health. You can either have a lavish vacation in Bali or have a simple 20-minute break from the household chores to watch a variety show. It is completely up to your preference!


Start by pausing what you are doing right now and by looking out the window for five minutes. Be present in that moment.


5. Try New Things


To keep your mind pumping, continue to go beyond your comfort zone. Challenging yourself began from the moment that you moved away from the country. Continue to learn in your journey to maintain the stability of your Mental Health.


Discover new things such as cooking some Australian dishes or knowing more about the Aboriginal Australians. These new things will help you view the world in a different light. Moreover, these will help you cultivate a sense of purpose to progress.

6. Always Be Grateful

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

Let us be real for a minute! No matter how much you try, you cannot control everything. This is why you get frustrated sometimes. However, you can be aware of the present moment and redirect your thoughts to the positive side. Doing so may boost your levels of satisfaction.


A quicky activity that you can do is to write on your “gratitude journal”. Write down and reflect upon the 3 things that you are grateful for at the end of each day.


7. Be Your Own Motivator


Many of the OFWs consider their family and friends back home as their biggest motivators. And, the newly cherished friends that they make can cheer them on as they fulfill a life outside of the Philippines.


These scenarios may pertain to you as well but, the most important person to have on your side is YOU! Put motivational quotes in your bedroom wall or family pictures on your desk. Do whatever your supportive heart desires.


8. Join Support Groups

join suport groups

Image Credit: DualDiagnosis

If you expanded your local network and asked around, you will realize that you are not alone. There are many Kababayans in Australia who experience stress of being away from the family too. Find these people and befriend them. Chances are, they will have more suggestions on how you can deal with homesickness and life in general.

  Check out and consider joining the members’ gatherings.


Taking care of your Mental Health using several techniques is an enjoyable thing to do. Practice the art of mindful living to keep your sanity in check. Savor what each moment can bring and stay present as you deal with the challenges of being a strong OFW.

Anna Agoncillo

Anna is a Registered Psychometrician and a graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Earning a bachelor's degree with honors in Psychological Studies, lead her to a career of writing and teaching. She is also the author of the new book entitled Psychology of Love, Money, & Life.


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