You moved to a new city. You have a job and a place to stay. Now what?
As an Italian woman who moved to the United States a little less than 10 years ago, I often think about what it means to live in a new place (and in my case a new country too). On one hand, moving to a different city may feel exciting, as we discover millions of new things and have the chance to get out of our usual paths. On the other hand, there are moments when we may feel lonely, distant from what is really meaningful for us and more vulnerable to stress. Here are some strategies that helped me when I was going through one of these low moments and that I also found helpful for my clients in therapy when they struggle to adjust to a new place.
1) THINK DAY BY DAY. when we live in a new city, things can feel very different from one day to the next one. One day we may be enthusiastic about discovering a new neighborhood we like to hang out in, and the next day we may feel extremely sad at the thought of our family and friends being far. The key is remembering that each day is different, and in a new place tomorrow may hold lot of good surprises.
2) DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE STRESS OF ADJUSTING. Getting used to a new city takes up a lot of mental energy. We need to learn new routes, develop different habits and many things we used to take for granted are not there. Do not underestimate how hard it is to have to learn your way around, and to have to think twice before getting anything done because you don’t know where things are and how to get them done. Be kind to yourself: remember that during this period of adjustment, every single thing during your day needs a bit of extra effort and you are doing it!
3) SELF-CARE. Self-care is always important, but even more when you are trying to adjust to a new city. In the mist of new habits it is easy to forget what makes us feel good: sleeping well at night, cooking a meal like the one we used to at home, doing something we enjoy.
4) STAY CONNECTED TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IMPORTANT FOR YOU even if they are far. It will not be the same as being there, but scheduling a skype call, writing an email, or even just sending a text on whats’up can be helpful to make you feel that you are not alone.
5) JOIN A GROUP. Find something you enjoy and find a group to do it with. Meet up has everything from knitting, to learning new languages. It will be a good way for you to stay busy while doing something you like with other people.
6) DON'T BE TOO SELECTIVE. Depending on their personality, some individuals need lot of friends and some just a few. Whatever your personality, you need to begin somewhere. Start chatting with your colleagues/neighbors even if they are not the type that could become your best friends. Friends bring new friends and you will find soon or later the people that you really feel close to.
7) BE PATIENT. Rome wasn’t built in a day! It takes a long time to really feel at home in a new city and to create a new support system. At first you may just have few acquaintances and you may feel out of place in a lot of situations, but little by little you will be able to create a new home and maybe also experience things you would not have imagined before.
Some of these things you may already do, but practicing them purposefully and in a more intentional way make these practices more effective in promoting emotional and physical wellbeing. If you liked this post, you can go to the resources page to download a wellness sheet to help you implement these suggestions during your week.