Don’t Let Moving Be the Death of You//5 Tips to Stay Healthy During Your Transition
Moving sucks. I’ve even heard one lady claim that moving was more traumatic than death. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but moving can definitely be one of the most challenging life transitions. When you’re forced to pack up your life, go through old junk, and clean out the cob webs, it’s hard not to do the same psychologically and emotionally.
I’ve moved a lot in my life. 22 times to be exact. I’ve moved within the same city, cross country, and internationally. In most of these places I took up residence for a year or less. Over the years I’ve learned how to adjust quickly to new living situations. It’s never as easy as unpacking my bags. I’ve had to adapt culturally and linguistically many times, adjust to new time zones, new systems of transportation, and new climates. I’ve moved solo, with strangers, friends, family, and my SO. You would think that after all these years, moving would be a piece of cake for me. It’s not. To be honest, transitions still shake me up. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that when I prioritize my health during these transitional periods, I am able to adapt to my new homes speedily and recover from any emotional or psychological baggage I carried with me.
So for all you hustling millennials who are hopping to a new city every year, this is for you. Whether you are moving for a new job or grad school, a new neighborhood or across the world – don’t let your next move be the death of you.
Here are 5 Tips to Stay Healthy in Your Transition
1. Get to know your local grocery stores, farmers markets and restaurants.
If I can’t cook a meal for myself for more than a week, my whole system is completely thrown off. That’s why learning where and how to get to the nearest grocery store is my top priority when I move. Each grocery store is laid out a bit differently and can carry a unique set of products that you might not be used to. Take time to familiarize yourself with what it has to offer and where to find your favorite ingredients. I highly recommend going on a day that you are not extremely crunched for time and aren’t pressed to find everything on your grocery list. That way you can browse at your leisure, make mental notes of what’s available, and make your future trips easier and faster.
If your closest grocery store doesn’t have everything you need, choose one day to explore what other options are available to you. Is there a local co-op nearby or a farmer’s market? Find out their opening hours and visit them. Finding a local farmers market is especially helpful because it allows you to learn what produce is available in your area. I also love going to new farmers markets because the people that attend them, and the farmers that sell their produce there are usually super friendly. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for social interaction! Even if you just ask how to “choose the best peaches” these little social interactions can go a long way in making you feel at home.
As ideal as cooking for yourself is, I also recognize that it’s not always an option when you’re first moving in – especially if you have limited time, or just don’t have the right kitchen supplies yet. That’s why you must get to know the restaurants in your neighborhood and what your delivery/takeout options are. I don’t mean fast food and convenience stores though. Explore various menus and discover what places have the most delicious and healthy meals. If you are vegan or vegetarian, I recommend using HappyCow.com which has an extensive inventory and reviews of vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants all over the world
2. Find a great walking route.
One of my favorite sayings is “either your feet or your mind can wander.” Moving is one of the main triggers that stirs up my anxiety and I know that sitting in one place makes it 10x worse. Finding a place to walk allows me to move my body and find clarity with my thoughts. It’s also free and I can easily fit it into my schedule. If you are someone who tends to have racing thoughts, anxiety, or general worry, finding a great walking route is an excellent way to sooth your mind and release mental tension. It’s also a great way to get outdoors, observe life around you, and get to know your area. Try to find a route that is close to you so that you can step out your door and get going whenever you desire.
3. Pack a few comforts even if they seem inconvenient.
All of us have our comfort items that instantly make us feel at ease. For me, it’s my yoga mat, journal, and essential oil diffuser. For Christian, it’s his foam roller and Kindle. Aside from the Kindle and journal, all of these items take up quite a bit of room and are awkwardly shaped. They are not the most convenient things to pack, especially when moving across the ocean (like we just did, twice). However, these are items that bring us joy and comfort no matter where we are. That’s why they are non-negotiable packing items.
I recommend identifying what items bring you comfort and making them non-negotiable packing items when you make your next move – even if they are inconvenient. Do you have a favorite photo album that warms your heart every time you look at it? Do you love to knit or crochet? Do you enjoy playing classical guitar to relax and unwind? Think about what makes you feel at home no matter where you go. If it’s colored pencils and a sketchpad, pack them. Your keyboard? make room in your car. Your favorite book? throw it in your purse. This will make the transition so much easier, and sooth your soul through this period of time. I love this tip especially because it can be individualized and can help with multiple aspects of your health – spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
4. Say "yes" to new social experiences.
One of the hardest things about moving can be feeling isolated and without community. I encourage you to put yourself out there and find ways to meet new people. Maybe you moved for a new job, and your co-workers invite you for lunch. Even if you packed your own, say yes. If you’re not invited out, make a point to go to events or locations where you could potentially meet new friends. Hit up a fitness class, join a Meetup group, or contact your university’s alumni network to see if there’s anyone in the area you already have a connection with.
These tricks have been game changers when I’ve moved to new places. When I lived in Buenos Aires, I met my first friend at the airport by striking up a conversation while we were in the customs line. When I moved to Minneapolis, I found the closest Nia class and made friends with the teacher. Hold your judgements during this process, and be open to who you might meet. You never know where you could meet your next friend. If you feel nervous about taking this step, remember that friendship is natural. People aren’t judging you as much as you think they are, and they want to make friends too. You could be a gift to their life, as much as they could be to yours – so get out there and introduce yourself.
Even if you don’t make a friend right away, that’s okay. Having any positive, in-person social interaction, and making yourself intentionally seen, can still offset feelings of loneliness and dramatically improve your mental health during this time. Remember, like anything else, engaging socially takes practice. The more you do it, the more confidence you build.
5. Activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Moving is fucking stressful. While that stress can give you the boost you need to pack all your boxes and scrub your apartment clean, it will damage you in the long run. When you are stressed, you are using your Sympathetic Nervous System, better known as your “Fight or Flight” response. In this gear, your heart rate quickens, your digestion system slows, and your adrenal glands work full force so that you can overcome whatever “danger” is in your way. Since evolution takes a long time to kick in, your body can’t distinguish between dissimilar stressful events. In other words, your body might register an event like moving, the same way it does running from a saber tooth tiger. The longer you are in this state, the greater the hazard. If you don’t make an effort to reduce your stress, you might find yourself losing hair, unable to digest properly, losing your sex drive and losing unsafe amounts of sleep. To avoid this fate you can activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System, otherwise known as your “Rest and Digest” system.
The best thing you can do to activate your PNS is to get quality sleep. Make a point to unplug and unwind before going to bed. Sleep in, take naps, and allow your body the rest it needs. While this is optimal to do every night, I know that’s not always realistic. If you have a busy schedule, or just can’t seem to get the quality sleep you need, there are a few other tricks you can use. My favorites include breath work, meditation, and Yoga.
Breathing practices such as the 4-7-8 method, or alternate nostril breathing, can be used at any time throughout the day and have immediate relaxation effects. Focus on elongating your exhale as long as possible for maximum benefits. Meditation is also a great way to induce presence and reduce stress. Try to meditate for at least 5-10 minutes every day, and experience how drastically your mindfulness and patience increases. If you’re new to meditation, I recommend starting with an app like "Headspace" or listening to guided meditations on YouTube like this "morning meditation for a positive and productive day" , or this one for "Letting Go". You can also activate your PNS by practicing Yoga. Since Yoga engages the whole body, it allows you to release physical tension along with mental stress. If you’re not able to join a class in person because you’re short on time, or have limited funds, try following instructional videos online. My favorite videos include "Zen Out" and "Regenerate and De-Clutter" by Yogea Artflow Yoga.
It will take time for you to feel 100% after you move. In fact, I have found that it takes at least 4 months for me to feel up to par in a new place. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things aren’t perfect right away, and do what you can to prevent burnout. Be compassionate towards yourself about all the changes you’re experiencing and know that you are doing your best.
If you desire extra support to stay on track with your health, be sure to sign up for a Free Health Consultation:)
Remember, you don’t have to do everything alone.
Now I want to hear from you! What tip do you think will help you the most on your next move? What helps make moving easier for you? Share in the comments below!