How to Cope with the Stress of Relocating

When it comes to change, stress is inevitable. Even celebratory change (getting married, getting a new job or promotion, moving to a new city) is accompanied by elevated stress levels. There’s a simple reason for it: the brain is programmed to view unfamiliar situations as a threat.

Back when humans lived in small communities surrounded by predators, being able to remember safe areas was vital for survival—so we learned to associate “familiar” with “good.” In today’s world, the game has changed. Relocation and new opportunities are unfamiliar, but the brain doesn’t classify them as good—leaving us feeling vulnerable in the midst of exciting changes.

So how do we deal with it? We’ll show you!

Think of Change Like Upgrading Your Brain’s OS

Accepting that stress is inevitable will make life a lot easier for all of us. Stress is how your brain processes change, so let it process. By avoiding or drowning those feelings, you might be doing more damage than you think.

Here’s what we mean:

Imagine that your life is an operating system, and all the different ways you think and cope with your life are applications. Now imagine that moving across the country is like a system update—when your computer’s OS goes through a major update, all your applications have to update to accommodate it, right? Same for the way you think! Your thoughts and habits have to be updated to match your life changes.

When you don’t let your brain go through those updates, guess what happens? Application crashes, or in this case, ways of thinking and behaving that don’t fit your new environment.

Short story: let yourself feel the stress. Just know that it’s normal and healthy to be a little freaked out at the prospect of moving out of familiar territory.