Sandi Krakowski, a “radical, new generation author”, says this about relocation, “You can’t grow a big tree in a small pot and you’ll never be able to grow a big life in small minded surroundings.” “There is no perfect city, place or neighbourhood”, she continues in the same breath. All of the above is true and having to move to a different city for work or otherwise can have a huge impact on one’s psyche. Such experiences can vary from being a welcome change to one being calamitous. While moving may not always be in our hands, adapting to change sure is.
In recent years, psychologists have been researching the psychological effects of relocating. A holistic picture is now emerging in the three basic areas involved in the process of relocation, i.e. preparing to move, the process of relocation and adapting to the new environment. Few of their suggestions have been enumerated below –
• Know the symptoms
– it is important to be able to identify the symptoms, which are abnormal sleep patterns, constant lack of energy, fear or inability to socialize, behavioural issues like extreme of either anxiety, panic attacks etc.
• Enjoy the process – according to Tracy Latz and Marion Ross, researchers believe that relocating is way in avoiding stress causing monotonous patterns of the past. The argument here is that old life experiences can be draining and set in a feeling of self sabotage and moving to a new place could help build new life experiences and beliefs. The other theory is that since humans evolved as nomads, the very quality of moving around and taming new challenges may be encoded into our systems. Thus, a change of abode may not be such a bad idea.
• Educate yourself – it is of great conversant to educate one’s self about the challenges that lay ahead. Even people who have shifted base many a time are often confronted with imponderables. Psychologists suggest that reading about the new place, people, and the culture etc arms one with confidence and keeps them aware of what awaits them.
• Giving yourself time – moving brings with it emotional upheavals. Adaptation is a process which happens over time. It is thus very easy to fall prey to foul mood and irritability which may lead to depression. This happens as a result of the stress one has borne in the undertaking the whole process of relocation. Psychologists suggest various ways to deal with the situation. The first thing they say is not be in a hurry and give some time to adjust. In the mean time it is necessary to do simple things like communicating with family and friends, going out to see around the town to even treating one’s self with an ice cream. They say it is important to stay active in this period to keep off your mind from negative emotions.
• Your child needs you - A new study published in the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology documents, that frequent change of place is difficult for a kid to handle as it chiefly affects his/her friendships. When parents are stressed and upset their parenting suffers and the kids always notice. What do the parents do?? They stay calm, connected and be ready with a patient ear to hear them out. Flexibility in parents is a virtue that reassures the kids like nothing else.
• Get a therapist – if problems persist, it is wise to see a therapist. There is no bravery in keeping things bottled up inside. Letting the emotions out before a person who will not judge you, works like a magic potion. A therapist is better equipped to lead you out of the emotional juggernaut and deliver tranquility.
In conclusion, it is still important to be patient with yourself. The process of shifting to a new city is an intense one and hence it is imperative that you give yourself time to settle into your new space and adjust to your surroundings. It will take time but soon the strange city will begin to feel like home.