Be Your Own Home: Tips to Feel Grounded
I once read somewhere that moving is the 3rd biggest source of stress an individual can experience, following the death of a loved one and a divorce.
I live a life where I uproot myself every few months to move to the other side of the world, without the reassuring presence of a friend, boyfriend or family member by my side. Over the past 3 years, I’ve spent 12 months in Indonesia, 10 months in Mexico, and I just moved to Israel a few weeks ago.
I also run a company, which means no steady income nor relying on the guidance from a boss and living with the fact that the thing in which we pour our hearts and souls every day might collapse from one day to another.
On top of this, I am a person with a tendency to anxiety, a trait that I like to blame my Jewish roots for. Really early in my life, I decided that this was not going to tame my taste for adventure.
Here are a few mechanisms I’ve set over the past few years, to make my body and mind more tolerant to change, become more resilient and basically be my own home. They are based on routine, flexibility, serotonin, and resilience.
- Routine: create a simple setup that you can follow anywhere, anytime
There is a fine line between your body having a “positive” or a “negative” reaction to change and between excitement and stress. Something that has helped me a lot is to have an easy and simple routine, that I can transplant anywhere in the world. I do running and yoga and carry my running shoes and mat everywhere with me. I meditate for half an hour every morning, no matter where I am in the world (I actually often start my meditations by visualizing on a mental map where I am sitting). I eat a simple breakfast (oatmeal and fruits) that I can easily find everywhere in the world and pack bags of my favorite tea when I travel. This familiarity really helps my body and mind to adapt smoothly to the unknown.
2. Flexibility: plan the plan, and that’s it
Different types of change require different levels of planning. Take moving to a new place: I have no need (nor time or desire) to plan everything before arriving somewhere, but I check ahead what needs to be scouted ahead for a specific location. In Bali, there’s no need to book accommodation or a coworking space in advance, while it is necessary to do so in Israel.
Whether you are moving, starting a new job, reorganizing your life after a change, do what you can to plan what needs to be planned, and leave the rest to happen organically. This will save a lot of time and avoidable stress, and allow you to settle in smoothly in the new routine. It will also replace the stress with a feeling of excitement because you’ve got a better picture of what you’re looking forward to.
3. Serotonin: get out of the house, go to events, smile and interact
Put yourself out there, make connexions. It is awkward, always, for everyone, to be the new kid. But no one ever died from it. So accept the feeling of awkwardness.
When it comes to changing countries, I find Facebook communities to be the most efficient to find out expat-friendly events that are going on. Over the past years, I’ve taken advantage of the groups Canggu Community, Sayulita People, and Secret Tel Aviv.
If that’s your thing, I also find Acro Yoga communities to be very dynamic and friendly, and once your butt has crashed on a stranger’s face during a failed attempt at the ninja star pose, you kinda have to be friends.
4. Resilience: don’t expect things to work out straight away, and learn to sit with discomfort
When first moving to a new place, it is normal to experience a time of adjustment and things not working out exactly how you’d want them too. The first few weeks of any new situation are often lonely and frustrating. Even if I got pretty used to it, it still takes me 4 to 6 weeks to settle down, during which I usually feel somewhat uncomfortable.
Take advantage of being less busy and having no social commitments and think of the things you always wanted to do: learn a new language, take up a new sport, learn to be a better cook (these are mine 💁🏻). Take the loneliness as practice and the challenges as adventures, learn to sit with discomfort and not label experiences as “good” or “bad”.
Voilà! These are my tips. I’m still very much of a work in process when it comes to adapting to new situations, and I am often juggling with negative feelings and anxiety, but I have found these habits useful.
What mechanisms and habits do you use to cope with change?