So, you’re going through a phase of sadness, anger, tiredness and reclusion after moving to a different city or country. That’s very common, whether you're an expat, a new immigrant, an international student or another kind of global nomad.
Most newcomers go through a long period to adjust to their new life situations. Of course, no two people react the same way to change.
If you moved alone, the transition may be more difficult than if you moved with your family. It’s harder to stay gloomy when you need to play with kids, or when you have a loving and supportive partner. And yet, even in that case, it's not always enough to get you out of that funk, and to get back to enjoying your life.
In my last post, 5 Hidden Signs of Relocation Depression in Expats, I went over the signs to watch for. Here are a few things you can do to get over your relocation funk.
1- Channel your inner turtle
Take it easy after the stress of the move. Don't overdo it, take time to rest. Sometimes we stay busy to cover up our pain and discomfort.
Try to incorporate some of your favorite activities back into your daily life. Go see a movie, or go for a hike to help you recover your strength and elevate your mood.
2- Bring back that homey feeling
You want to recreate the sense of familiarity you had in your former home. So take out your picture frames, your favorite memorabilia and decorate away.
Even if you’re only planning to stay in your current location for a few months or a couple of years, having some familiar objects around, and making this new place yours, will go a long way to help you feel more settled. Include items that remind you of happy times with people you love.
3- Become a pro at reframing
Grocery shopping is not a chore; it’s an adventure during which you’ll be discovering hidden treasures, especially if you're coming from a different country. Reframing your thoughts and perceptions in a more positive light can go a long way. Make it a challenge to yourself to see the silver lining when possible.
4- Cruise in your neighborhood
Spend time exploring your new neighborhood. Find your go-to supermarket, hardware store, drugstore, post office...
There's something really rewarding and meaningful when the barista at your local coffee shop remembers your name and your order. It feels like you've passed a milestone of integration. Pay attention to these small indicators and take a moment to appreciate them.
Take your kids to a nearby playground. It will be good for them and for you. You'll get to meet other parents, who are often also hungry for adult conversations. You'll also get a lot of useful information from people who are familiar with your area.
5- Know your neighbors
Invite your neighbors to an open house for breakfast, or a happy hour after work. You'll be glad you've built these relationships the day you expect an important package, or you have to work late and your dog needs to be fed. People tend to build friendships more easily with people who live closer.
6- Skype or Viber away
Just because you moved away doesn't mean you have to let go of your friends back home. This connection will help as you transition and get your bearings. Reach out to your support system and share your various experiences.
7- Find a new tribe
Although it can be helpful to meet other expats, with whom you may have more in common, there's no telling how long your new friends will stay before moving on again. Try to make new friends that are locals. To help you grow roots, join groups revolving around one of your interests. Take a yoga class, a cooking class, join a running group.
If you love fly-fishing, hiking, or painting, or if you're a new mom, it will be easier to connect with people who share similar interests.
8- Become a creature of habit again
Establishing a new routine can help you become more grounded and ease the transition as you gain a sense of familiarity. But don't let it become a rut! Consider if your current routine is serving you; does it leave you satisfied or depleted? If your current routine consists of waking up and staying in your PJs until 2 pm, you’ll want to try something else. How about getting dressed in the morning and going out for coffee and a walk?
9- Get physical
Move your body, however you want to to do it. Whether it’s a walk, dancing in your living room, skiing, or chasing your toddler around… You probably know by now the benefits of being physically active and the impact it has on your mood.
10- Nourish your body
Avoid stimulants like coffee and downers like alcohol. It can be tempting to use food and stimulants to self-medicate, but it’s not sustainable. It only covers up your pain and distracts you from dealing with it. Instead, take care of your body by giving it the nutrients it needs to support you better through this transition. Avoid refined sugar, favor fruits, veggies, proteins and healthy fats.
If you’ve exhausted all your resources, used up all your usual tools, and you still can’t get out of this funk, find some professional support.
You can also check out my blog post: 11 Tips to Help you Get Through a Major Life Change
If you’re in the Denver area, feel free to contact me. We can work together and use some fresh tools to help you get over the hump, and get you enjoying your new life adventure.
About the author: Valerie Abitbol, LMFT, owner of Flow Counseling, PLLC is a counselor and therapist in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in couples and individuals dealing with major life transitions. She helps them move from feeling scared and overwhelmed to finding balance and a new normal in their lives. Valerie also provides counseling to couples to help them heal, reconnect, and grow happiness.
Copyright: tvirbickis / 123RF Stock Photo