Looking back isn’t going to help you. Moving forward is the thing you have to do. -McKayla Maroney
My mother always says that moving is one of life’s most stressful events. Surely it doesn’t quite compare to losing a family member, getting a divorce, or being diagnosed with a major illness, but almost any person who has moved themselves before can tell you that the process can lead to frustration, loneliness, and fear. As a college student and a person who has experienced significant life changes (I lost a parent in 2013), I’ve had to move quite a lot. Every time, it has been quite an exhausting ordeal. Between the physical labor, inevitable mishaps, and and new surroundings, I always end up feeling more stressed out during the weeks of the move.
People are most likely to move due to work or financial reasons, such as: a new job, being laid off, the desire to buy a nicer home after making enough money at a current job, or looking for a place with a shorter commute. This means that if you haven’t already, you will probably move for a work or financial reason sometime during your life. Personally, I just settled into my new apartment in New York yesterday after accepting an internship with an advertising agency.
My apartment building is filled with interns working everywhere from BCBG Max Azria to The New Yorker. The vast majority of these interns flew in from all over the world and it’s clear that most of us are stressed and nervous.
On my first day in New York, I felt determined to power through the day without acknowledging the inherent stress that comes with the situation, but as the day came to a close, I realized I was going to need some adjustment strategies. As a North Carolina girl, everything in my new city seemed very different, plus I don’t really know anyone here and I felt exhausted. I knew I needed a game plan.
Today, my second day in New York, I decided to keep things pretty low key. I spent my afternoon unpacking and scoping out a place to buy a cheap microwave with my roommate. Tomorrow, I plan to really hit the ground running. I want to start the de-stressing process by getting really familiar with my new surroundings. One of the reasons people get stressed when moving to a new place is the anxiety toward navigation difficulties and unfamiliar territory. A great way to push through this problem is to be a shameless tourist for a few days and visit the places your town is known for. If possible, you can even go on a guided tour or ride a tour bus. This will give you a chance to learn about your new environment and familiarize yourself with important streets and locations. After a week of exploring, you won’t feel nearly as frustrated about the idea of getting lost.
Once I feel like I’ve been to plenty of tourist traps, I’ll start looking for personal favorite “calm spots”. A calm spot is a go-to place that you find beautiful and relaxing. At home in Chapel Hill, I had particular areas in libraries and outdoor areas that I liked to go to when I was stressed out or had a lot to do. Finding calm spots in your new city can give you a similar sense of ease during stressful moments, and will make you feel more at home.
Lastly, I plan to immerse myself in the community. While loneliness doesn’t always cause stress, it can certainly be a factor. Finding a place in your community where you feel like you belong is extremely important when you move because stress can be relieved through social activity and receiving comfort from others. As I navigate though my new environment I plan to do so with my warmest, most inviting attitude so that people are aware that I’m open to relationship building and friendship. I also plan to get equally comfortable going out alone. When you’re starting your social network from scratch, you have to practice going to coffee shops, bookstores, or other places you like to frequent by yourself. Otherwise, it will be twice as hard to meet people and become a familiar face in your community. The first couple of weeks will always be the hardest, but the payoff in reduced stress over time will be 100% worth it.
I hope that by the end of the summer when I move back home, I’ll be able to say that moving is stressful but completely manageable. Then, when I fully enter the workforce I can accept a job absolutely anywhere without batting an eye.