Topic: Managing Stress

More than likely your routine has been wildly out of whack since the beginning of COVID-19. It feels especially strange to me since we have moved and are setting up a new life in a new place amidst this global pandemic. There are more restrictions where we live now than there were where we moved from, and it’s a steep learning curve. We didn’t get to say goodbye to a large number of our previous community thanks to the virus. So, it seems weird to settle into a new place when the sting from your old life is still present; and finding a new community seems unconventionally challenging. The pressure to rebuild the life we recently had can be overwhelming. Alas, I’ve learned that finding a new routine is the key to making a home in our new community, even at a distance. I’d love to share three tips that I’ve learned recently on finding a new routine in a new place. I hope they help you as they have helped me.

  1. Create your wish list. Every new place has its unique treasures. There are things you should seek out in your new environment that your old duty station didn’t offer. For some people, the same routine, no matter where they are, is a huge comfort. But I’m a big believer in incorporating the variety that different locations offer. For me, this is really fun. What have you always wanted to do that wasn’t offered at your last place? Maybe a farmer’s market, a community pool, yoga, or a state park to explore. Something that is exciting for you will help you create new, fun memories in your new home. Also, when you paint your life differently, you aren’t always thinking back and comparing it to your old routine. There’s a fine line between keeping up with the old and letting go to give yourself room to move forward.
  2. Polish your habits. It is always a great opportunity to reflect on daily habits when you move. Something about a new environment feels like a clean slate and seems easier to set a new tone for your life. A really simple habit for me that I’ve been working on improving is taking care of my indoor plants, as silly as that sounds. Our PCS was only five hours away, but man did my houseplants take a beating – even the ones I had sitting up front with me in the truck. I immediately had to find a good plant nursery and took in one particular plant that was pretty near despair. Once the nursery staff saw how pitiful it was, they took pity on me (and the plant) and threw everything they had at it. Now, it looks great. But the point is, as insignificant as it may seem, I have already created a relationship with the new nursery staff and have decided to take on more of their houseplants in my house. I’ve come to really enjoy taking better care of my plants and am finding pleasure in my new hobby. It’s a simple addition, and sometimes that’s enough. I always just enjoy the chance to reflect and see what I could do better.
  3. Be brave. Choosing to step up and make small talk with all the random people you see throughout your day can be hard in a new place. Not because small talk is hard, but the desire to build meaningful relationships beyond small talk is strong. You never know where your next new friend will come from. Finding a new community and building up relationships takes a lot of work. It’s exhausting. But the payoff is huge. I mean, it is the quality of our lives we are talking about. Choosing to go and seek out new friendships can seem excruciating for some, and easy for others. Regardless of how easy or difficult it is for you to make new friends, setting up a new life takes an exorbitant amount of courage. I just want to encourage you to be brave and challenge you to live your best life at your new home. You never know when your next BFF will step into your life.

In conclusion, moving is hard. It takes courage to build a new life and community. It’s particularly challenging with COVID-19. But we can control our routines, and we can strive to make the most of the new scenery in which we were placed.