Big moves are hard, but they’re also sometimes necessary as well as beneficial—whether they were planned or completely unexpected. In either case, it’s important you make this transition a mindful one, as advised by Teodora Pavkovic, a New York City-based psychologist and life coach. Pavkovic speaks from experience as she made her move to New York City a year ago to open her own coaching practice. “Our mind contains all of our inner world as well as the world we create within our relationships, so what is it that our mind needs for optimum well-being?” she asks. Her experience as a psychologist, life coach, and new NYC dweller have shaped her answers into helpful tips that will allow you to make a smooth move. Just follow these 6 to-dos:
1) Form connections.
Pavkovic’s first tip is to start forming new connections as quickly as possible, as feelings of loneliness and isolation can have detrimental effects on your mental health: “Moving to a new town or company can at first feel incredibly isolating, and we now know from research in the field of neuroscience that isolation (and its meaner cousin, rejection) is experienced by the brain as physical pain. So make sure to start forming connections with people as soon as possible—even if it’s just saying hello to the person from whom you buy the newspaper every morning.”
2) Reflect on this transition.
You should also give yourself time to process and reflect on this transition, as explained by Pavkovic. “A disturbance in our routine tends to jolt our mind out of autopilot and make it wonder: what does this all mean?! Spend some time thinking about this transition in the greater scheme of things, and remind yourself of why you decided to make this move in the first place,” she says. “The best thing would be to keep a handwritten journal and take some time every day or every few days to write about this experience, how you have been thinking and feeling, and how it ties into the different aspects of your life as well as your core values. This will be incredibly helpful to you if you encounter those days of feeling nostalgic or sad about your previous life or anxious and worried about your future in this new place.”
3) Prioritize pleasure and play.
Pavkovic says it’s also important that you make time in your busy schedule to enjoy your favorite activities, as doing so is vital to your mental health. “What helped you to learn as a child will never go away: you will always have that desire to play and enjoy yourself,” she explains. “Make sure to find activities that will enable you to derive lots of joy, whether it is outdoor sports, visiting museums or musical performances, or inviting a new friend to watch comedies at your home. Whatever you do, do not neglect this basic human need!”
4) Welcome the unfamiliar.
Additionally, don’t shy away from switching up your daily routine. It’s healthy and beneficial to plan out your day, but it’s also essential that you welcome novelty every now and then: “Closely related to the previous tip, even those of us who love and live by routines need some newness every once in a while,” Pavkovic says. “Once your transition is over and you have settled into your new routine, be sure not to get stuck in it. Practice having what mindfulness and mediation practitioners call the beginner’s mind, and always take the attitude that your new home has lots of novel and unexplored opportunities for you.”
5) Familiarize yourself with the new surroundings.
Your fifth to-do is to really explore and get to know the area as well as the people; doing so will ease and assure your brain that there aren’t any threats. “Arguably the most basic of human needs, safety is always very vulnerable when we make a change in life. Most of the time, your new environment won’t pose an actual physical threat, but your ancient brain won’t know that and will still send you signals of potential danger,” Pavkovic explains. “Find ways of familiarizing yourself with your new surroundings, the new people around you, their customs and cultures, and anything else that is unfamiliar to you. And remember, as soon as it becomes familiar, your brain will switch off the danger signal.”
6) Give yourself a break.
“Last, but certainly not least, cut yourself some slack, to put it in simple terms,” says Pavkovic. “Recognize that what you are going through is challenging, and it can be scary and frustrating and very destabilizing. Give yourself credit for all that you have already done to help yourself make it through this transition as smoothly as possible, and keep in mind that you are not alone in this—in our faster than fast-paced world, many people’s lives are in constant transition. Feel that connection with the larger community of people who are going through these changes every day, and send both them and yourself lots of supportive compassionate thoughts.”