What was your move to the United States like?
Did you arrive late in the evening with your family and tons of luggage? Did you have to stay in a tiny hotel room before moving into your apartment?
Did you struggle to communicate in English with the taxi drivers, hotel managers, or the moving company?
If you have you gone through an international move, you know that it can be hard. And what about that first Monday meeting with your new boss and colleagues while you were still feeling jet-lagged, overwhelmed, and confused. How did it go?
Does this sound stressful? That's because it is stressful!
If you feel stressed out during your move to the United States, you have to start by admitting to yourself that you are indeed stressed out.
Don't be ashamed!
Then start finding ways to deal with the stress. Your family needs your help. Your new boss and colleagues are expecting a lot from you. But before you can give anything to any of them, you need to find a place of calm within yourself.
In today's post, Arjun, a writer and traveler based in Bangalore, India, is going to tell us about what he learned during his international move to London and how his experience can help you with your move to the U.S.
When I moved to London a few years back, little did I know that all the initial excitement of moving to a new city would last only a few days for me. I started work within a few days of landing in London, which meant that I had to get used to the city, look for an apartment and blend into the local work culture all at the same time, while living out of a suitcase in a hotel.
Then I got the news from my international mover that my shipment with all my household stuff was going to be delayed by a few weeks due to unforeseen circumstances. No amount of preparation I had done prior to my move had prepared me for the situation I had found myself in.
When my shipment finally arrived, I found that some of my furniture was broken beyond repair. The insurance would cover the damages, but that just added to my worries and aggravated my stress levels.
My work was beginning to suffer as I found it hard to concentrate, which was unusual for me. I was completely overwhelmed and felt myself descending into a downward spiral of stress and exhaustion. I needed to do something to restore the balance. I then realized that I had completely neglected my health during the transition to life in London.
Over the next few weeks, I began researching ways to de-stress and rejuvenate both physically and mentally. What I found was that even the little details mattered.
I was eating the wrong food and not sleeping as much as I should have, thereby not giving my mind and body a chance to rest and recharge. After extensive research on the internet, several trips to the local library and a lot of trial and error, I came up with a routine to reduce my stress levels and get my life back on track.
These are the things that really worked for me:
1) Exercise Regularly
Researchers at Harvard have confirmed that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity everyday is extremely beneficial not only for the body, but also for the mind.
Exercise helps dissipate stress by flushing out cortisol, a stress-causing chemical from your body, replacing it with feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. Physical activity also regulates metabolic rate and enhances the quality of sleep.
All vital ingredients for lower stress levels.
Places to walk, run or jog:
- East River Drive
- Central Park Reservoir
- Williamsburg Bridge
- Emerald Necklace
- Atlantic Avenue
- Esplanade Waterfront Park
2) Get a Professional Massage
A study by the School of Medicine at the University of Miami revealed that massage not only relieved muscle tension and stress, but also had the added benefit of heightened alertness after a midday chair massage.
The participants of the study were made to do a math computation task after the massage to determine if the alertness translated into performance.
It was found that accuracy levels increased and computation time decreased significantly after the massage.
Now, that is reason enough to hit the massage table!
3) Take Out a Library Membership
I realized that going to the library twice a week to read up on stress relief had inadvertently instilled a sense of calm in me.
Sure, I read the newspaper everyday. That is something we all take for granted. But I also set aside time specifically for the act of reading for pleasure.
New research by the University of Sussex has shown that reading for just 6 minutes can reduce heart rates and lower stress levels by up to 68%! In comparison, listening to soothing music and playing video games lowered stress levels by 61% and 21% respectively.
Check out these libraries:
4) Remember that Laughter is Medicine
Humor is one the best, most natural defences against stress. If you are not laughing enough, now is the time to fix that.
A study by the American College of Sports Medicine revealed that laughter improved blood flow and relaxed muscles for a full 24 hours after subjects watched a funny movie, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.
Another breakthrough study by Dr. Lee Burke of the Loma Linda University, California has shown that just the anticipation of laughter can relieve stress. The anticipation of humor reduced 3 major stress hormones in the body - cortisol, epinephrine and dopac, while increasing feel-good hormones like beta-endorphins.
Robin Williams once said, “Comedy is acting out optimism”. So get your weekly comedy fix by catching a show at the comedy club or watching the latest laugh-out-loud blockbuster!
5) Don't Forget to Sleep
Get a good night’s sleep! A Kaiser Permanente study shows that people who slept for 6-8 hours a day reported lower stress levels.
Various studies have found that stress hormone levels decrease at the time of REM or the dream stage of sleep. Remember that sleep and stress are interrelated.
If your stress levels are low, you will sleep better.
Arjun is a writer for Feedbacq, a platform that connects expats and repatriates with international moving companies. Arjun is currently based in Bangalore, India.