Change is an inherent part of human life and there is always more or less stress involved. A change of environment can be particularly difficult. How to cope with it?
Every change in the established rhythm of life burdens us emotionally and causes great stress. Moving to another city or country, a new school, the first days at work – all this requires us to face something new and unknown, to leave our comfort zone and revise our habits. How to facilitate the adaptation process in a new environment?
The ability to adapt
Psychological adaptation is a person’s ability to adjust to the requirements and criteria of a particular social group. We use it throughout our lives, for example by adapting to the individual characteristics of the family into which we were born. Later, we adapt to the school environment, the work environment, and the living conditions with a partner of our choice.
The higher the level of adaptive skills we possess, the more easily we adapt to the living conditions around us and to their changes
What affects adaptability?
Psychology identifies 3 factors that affect a person’s level of adaptive skills:
- flexibility of the psyche, which determines the speed of adaptation to new conditions,
- self-awareness, which is a person’s knowledge about himself and his reactions,
- openness and objective assessment of reality, which implies focusing on solutions to the problem rather than the problem itself.
By having the right attitude and taking specific actions, we can effectively influence the acceleration of the adaptation process, even in situations that are particularly difficult for us.
New job and team
The first weeks in a new job can be very stressful. According to psychologists, depression and physical fatigue during this time are characteristic for up to 70% of all new employees. Fortunately, you can ease this difficult but definitely transitional period with the following tips:
- Plan your day meticulously to avoid problematic situations that you can anticipate;
- Provide yourself with more pleasure and joy during this period, socialize with friends, lead an active lifestyle, and get plenty of sleep;
- Smile! People perceive smiling people positively and are more willing to cooperate with them. And for you, smiling is an inexhaustible source of happy hormones;
- Assume the position of an observer. Discover who is the formal leader and who is the actual leader. Try to understand the real relationships between people, the group dynamics and its unwritten rules.
Remember that you are also new to the team and they need to get used to it. Give them and yourself time.
Away from home
A more difficult situation is moving away, especially to a foreign country. According to psychologists, the separation from the home country, family and friends is experienced similarly to mourning after the death of someone close. We have to come to terms with the loss of social status, circle of friends, social ties, language of communication, professional qualifications, with everything that is familiar and close to us. We may experience a real culture shock in a new country, but the right attitude can help us survive the adaptation period.
- Don’t associate moving with negative emotions only. Find its positive aspects.
- Write down thoughts and feelings that will help you identify what you find most difficult about the move.
- Remember that all your accomplishments, knowledge, skills and talents are with you, but you may need to learn to use them in a different way.
- Don’t compare yourself to others who have made an immediate and painless transition into a new situation. Adaptation is a very individual process.
- Make the space you live in really look like home. Surround yourself with things that will help you feel comfortable and safe. If you are on a tight budget and don’t want to spend too much, focus on the room where you spend most of your time.
- Don’t abandon your hobbies and interests. Focusing on your favorite and familiar activities will recharge you with positive energy and help calm your thoughts.
- Explore your new neighborhood. Take a walk around and find places in your neighborhood that may be useful to you in the future or become your favorite.
- If you don’t speak the local language, try to order coffee, ask for the nearest pharmacy. Let people know that you have just moved and are just starting to learn the language, many people will be happy to help you.
- Get to know your neighbors and make new friends. Open up to the local community and its customs.
- Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help and support.
In any situation, remember that nothing lasts forever and you will eventually get used to your new surroundings and what was foreign and unusual will become your everyday life. The longing for home and loved ones or the “good old days” will never fully disappear, but one day it will simply become bearable or even neutral.
Main photo: Austin Distel/unsplash.com