Meet Mr. Smiles. He’s a jolly man, loved by his neighbors, local baristas, and co-workers. He’s the kind of person you’d trust with your life and consider a true friend. But recently, Mr. and Mrs. Smith from next door have noticed that Mr. Smiles hasn’t been as enthusiastic when they greet him in their morning walks. Rebecca, from the cafe, observed that Mr. Smiles has been coming in twice a day lately. Even the office receptionist, Mark, noticed Mr. Smiles had been late twice this week. That has never happened before!

Worried, they each took the initiative to ask how he was. Turns out, life circumstances have required Mr. Smiles to move 12 hours away within the next month! This has caused a lot of distress and anxiety in Mr. Smiles. 

According to California-based Clinical Psychologist Lauren Cook, the psychological effects of moving can be classified in two ways: Relocation Depression and Moving Anxiety. What’s the difference? What are the causes? What can be done to combat them?

Moving Anxiety VS Relocation Depression: What’s the difference?

Moving anxiety can be characterized by worried thoughts, physical tension, and general avoidance. This may cause a person to suffer from irregular sleeping patterns, be distracted, and dodge daily life tasks. What lies under this is the lack of both control and predictability. This type of change does not provide comfort.

A five-year study conducted in Auckland, New Zealand, showed a direct correlation between stress and anxiety levels and moving. Those who moved more in the span of the study had significantly higher results than those who only moved once. But on the bright side, this dissipates. It may take longer for some, but it will most likely vanish in time.

On the other end of the stick, others may have a different experience. The effects can manifest as Relocation Depression instead. 

Imagine moving into a totally different world where you knew nobody. You would have to redo everything from making friends and getting along with new coworkers to introducing yourself to the neighbors. This may cause someone to feel isolated, apathetic towards socializing, and overall lose interest in hobbies they used to enjoy.

The greeting of a neighbor, the smiles of a familiar face, the stories shared between friends, everything suddenly disappears. In the blink of an eye, nobody looks out for you, and you don’t feel important in your own space.

One of the biggest telltales that it’s Relocation Depression and not Moving Anxiety is that, over time, it amplifies. Unlike Moving anxiety that dissipates, the symptoms of Relocation Depression may magnify after moving. 

Me VS Moving Anxiety & Relocation Depression: What can be done to combat them?

Here are a few preventative steps to take note

  1. Plan

Write them down! Make a top-do and to-buy list. Packing tape, bubble wrap, boxes, etc. Don’t forget to add in things to accomplish, like changing your billing address and handling utilities.

  1. Hype Yourself

Make a bucket list and research cool places to visit. Maybe research areas where movies were filmed and see them. Treat the initial move like a vacation!

  1. Expect the emotions

At the end of the day, feeling a certain way can never be avoided. Expect it to come and allow them to happen.

  1. Welcome help

Seeking help is a big step. Letting other people in may be the next best thing. Reply to that “How u doing?” text from a friend. Send a quick text to your family. Respond to a comment on your social media post. Every little step matters. And when you’re ready, then seek help and voice it out to loved ones or a professional.

Moving is a life-altering event that comes with a lot of emotions. It’s normal to feel these emotions and to experience stress, anxiety, or depression. But on the bright side, a new beginning might just be exactly what you need.

The darkest time of night means it’s almost morning.