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“I moved to Boulder to find peace, love and nordic skiing. I am excited to have my kids grow up in a place where physical fitness and the outdoors are exalted. I finally found a place where everyone is filled with zen, community and passion – so why am I having such a hard time settling in? Why aren’t I filled with calm assurance that this is where I belong? Why am I depressed?”

I hear this over and over with my clients who have just moved to Boulder. They researched and saved; planned and sacrificed; and really wanted to move to Colorado. Many moved from busy, traffic-filled cities: DC, New York, Boston. And most were excited to leave the crowds and fast paces behind them. So it is confusing when they don’t feel an immediate sense of calm and belonging here. They wonder with me: where are the throngs of friends for me to bond with? why am I suddenly doubting this move? why am I feeling depressed when I chose this?

It is very normal to feel out of place, anxious and even depressed after a move. Not only are you absorbing the loss of your old routine, house, job and friends but you are also rebuilding a life – or lives if you have a family. It takes time to find a routine and feel settled. It takes a lot of time to find friends.

In my work with individuals going through major life transitions I have found 3 tips that can help immediately.

  1. Acknowledge that it will take 3 years to feel settled. Yes, that is three years not three weeks or three months. You can’t speed this up and you can’t force familiarity with people, places, neighborhoods or holidays. You need to find a way to lower your expectations of yourself and to find a way to tolerate feeling sad.
  2. Allow yourself to feel bad right now. It is normal to feel out-of-sorts after a move. Everyone feels anxious, sad, lost, numb or even angry after a big move. You do need to find outlets for these feelings: talking with friends, journaling, singing, crying, or talking with a therapist.
  3. Find one thing to be grateful for and focus on that for 30 seconds every day. After we go through a big transition we tend to focus on all that we have lost
    and all the things that are different. This is completely normal as everything that surrounds you is new and different. But there is a magical thing that happens when we turn our focus to something – we tend to see more and more of that thing. So, being surrounded by all new things, pretty soon all we see is how out of place we are and how unfamiliar everything is – and we feel terrible. If you can focus on feeling grateful for one small thing then you might find that you see more things to feel good about. You might even find that your mood shifts very slightly. This only takes 30 seconds and at first it will create only a small shift – but it is a shift. This gratuity can be for hot coffee, a pretty sky in the morning or pain free legs or teeth (we sometimes forget to be grateful for this things that don’t hurt!).

Moving is hard and rebuilding a life is hard. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need a therapist to talk with about your transition.

Learn more about couples counseling after a move.


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