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How to Stay Calm When it Feels Like Everyone is Leaving

It is a strange time in Hong Kong, with uncertainty about the pandemic response, food security, and schooling all contributing to widespread feelings of anxiety.

For some, the situation has become untenable. A number of families and individuals have opted to hastily leave the city in a matter of days, returning later in the year or not at all. Others are planning to exit this summer. 

If you feel like everyone you know is leaving Hong Kong, you are not alone. Here’s how to stay calm when it seems like all your friends are saying goodbye.

1. Remember, everyone’s circumstances are different

You never know other’s true reasoning. Some people were planning to leave and are choosing to move timelines up. Others have family members who are sick. Many may be simply using the current situation as a catalyst for change that they have been avoiding. For many, this situation is a great push to do things they have been putting off. Just because others are choosing to leave does not mean you are in some way disadvantaged or wrong for staying. There is no “right” answer here.

2. Don’t panic

Panicking doesn’t help anything or anyone. If you are stressed about your friends leaving, stop and tackle your anxiety first. Take five minutes to focus on your breathing and calm down. Meditate, go for a run, or any number of the calming strategies that can be found HERE. It is easier to deal with difficult situations with your anxiety in check.

3. Respond, don’t react

Once you are calm, focus on responding to the situation, not reacting. Take stock of what is best for you and your family, determining what is necessary and realistic for you. Is your position transferable to another location, or are there similar employment opportunities elsewhere? Do you have a destination in mind where you have friends, family or community support? Be sure to assess your situation calmly so whatever decision you make, it is done with a cool head and clear eyes.

4. This too shall pass

Anxiety levels are high in Hong Kong for the moment. Empty shelves at the market, questions about school continuing, rising Covid-19 cases, and a shifting pandemic response all lend to a city-wide feeling of worry and fear. But it will not last forever. One constant in life is change, and the current situation is no exception. The Omicron peak will come and go, grocery shelves will be restocked, and we will return to another new normal.

5. Stick to a routine

Focus on keeping a regular routine wherever possible. Continue to work from home, jog in the evenings, and have dinner with your family. Be sure to include enjoyable activities to keep your spirits up. Self-care should also be a part of your plan. Eat healthily, exercise and get enough sleep so you wake up feeling rested, instead of listless and exhausted. Routines help people feel grounded and useful. Make them work to your advantage.

6. Keep in touch

There is no excuse for losing touch with friends nowadays. Staying connected across oceans and continents is as easy as contacting someone across town. Make a plan to stay connected with those you care about – don’t wait for them to do it. Moving is stressful and difficult at the best of times. Remember they will have a million things to do, so make it your job to stay in touch for the first while.

7. Check on your kids

If you are struggling with people leaving, remember to check in with your kids. Children, like adults, have deep feelings for their friends. Although children are resilient and adaptive, they too need the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and process loss. Keep them on a reassuring routine, and include them in family discussions about staying or leaving, adjusting the level of sophistication to their understanding.

8. Get help

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current situation in Hong Kong, you are not alone. Contact the BFDC, we can help.