Americans move a lot. According to a 2013 Gallup survey, nearly a quarter of the adult U.S. population moved during the previous five years. My wife and I are not exempt from that; we’re currently in the process of moving from Nashville, Tennessee to Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a good move for the both of us, and we are really excited about it. However, it hasn’t been without a lot of anxiety, worry, and stress.
Relocating to a new city or town is stressful for anybody, even if the move represents a positive change. Largely this is because uprooting yourself from familiar places and people is never easy, and the challenges of adjusting to a new locale are numerous. How will you find your way around? How will you make friends? Will you lose all the friends you made in your former home? Does anyone sell your favorite mustard? On top of that, you may have second thoughts — did I really make the right decision? What if I’m miserable here?
Santa Fe, New Mexico–based psychologist and psychotherapist Elizabeth Stirling, PhD, specializes in helping people navigate major life changes and offers some simple advice for overcoming moving anxiety and easing into a new place:
- Think positive. “One of the greatest rewards of moving is the fact that it represents new beginnings and new excitement — a fresh landscape, new people to meet, perhaps a new and better job.”
- Create and use a support system. Don’t hesitate to get support from your good friends in the place you’re leaving. Good friends will always be there for you.
- To make new friends, be a joiner. Mutual-interest clubs, classes, and religious gathering places offer easy and immediate opportunities to connect with new people.
- Involve the kids. If you’re moving with kids, ease their stress by including them in the process. Show them maps; get them involved in finding information about the new place.
- Start by establishing a comforting routine. A regular walk in your new neighborhood can familiarize you with the streets and with your neighbors. A gym routine can help structure your day and serve as a way to make new friends.
- Seek out new experiences. Instead of lamenting what you’re leaving behind, Stirling says to search for opportunities that are uniquely available in your new locale.
- Hang pictures on the wall. “If there’s one simple thing that can make your new place feel like home right away,” Stirling says, “it’s getting your favorite pictures on the wall, even before you finish unpacking.” Your favorite art and photography — icons of who you are and what you love — are the fastest way to make a new place feel like it’s your own.
My wife and I have found this process has been a great opportunity to reconnect with one another. What better way to get to know your partner than going through a major life change? We will look back this one day and wonder how we made it through, but the answers are easy: love, patience, and kindness. Not to mention a call to our local independent agent. Even though the moving process was stressful, we made sure we had peace of mind our new investment was protected. Have you moved lately? How did you make it through? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below!