We are starting a series called Soulcare Sundays. Every Sunday evening, we will post about a topic that's relevant to the community's emotional/spiritual well-being. Here's Brij to kick it off...
A lot of people move countries for motorsport – mostly to do their dream jobs, but there are other reasons people move – but few people talk about how stressful it is. Moving countries is commonly listed as one of the top ten most stressful thing you can do. It's not listed by Holmes and Rahe, but if you count up the number of life changes involved, it pushes your personal stress score pretty high. So, as seasoned relocaters, we decided to put together a handy guide to ease your transition from home country to destination country.
1.Research, Research, Research
Before you leave your homeland, do research about your destination country. Learn the basics of the language, or you'll find, as Fernando Alonso put it when describing his move to the UK, 'the supermarket was not easy.' Learn about the food traditions, because there will be products from your homeland that are unavailable; lessen the shock before you arrive. Learn about the differences in manners between your homeland and destination country to avoid offending the new friends you make. Learn about how the local government and legal system works to avoid accidentally breaking the law – no two countries have identical constitutions, so there will be some unexpected bans.
2.Make New Friends ASAP
One of the overriding feelings reported by people who move countries is loneliness and isolation. Almost everyone who knows your story has been left behind, and you have few, if any, people with whom you have subtext in your friendships. The best way to mitigate this is to get stuck into a number of different crews immediately upon your arrival. Find a gym crew to work out with. Find a community of faith who share your values to bring a little bit of 'home' feeling back into your life. Get to know the regulars at your local watering hole – although, fair warning, barflies aren't usually the most reliable friends. Find people with whom you have common ground, so you feel slightly less alien in your new environment.
3.Have A Strong Routine
At some point in your first few months, the honeymoon period will wear off. You'll find yourself in the winter of the soul, wondering why you thought moving was a good idea. You'll be genuinely homesick, and completely lack motivation to get out of bed. If you have a strong routine – even better if other people are involved in your routine – you'll have more motivation to overcome the inevitable depression. Moving countries with a stash of anti-anxiety medication won't help; the depression is a normal part of moving. The only way to move through it is to maintain a feeling of connectedness, most effectively achieved by spending time with your new friends and allowing them to offer you comfort.
4.Take Mementoes From Your Old Life
Never underestimate the comfort afforded by photos of family and friends back home, by old favourite books, and by gifts you were given by people dear to you. Make space for these in your luggage allowance. If you moved and left them behind, ask someone to mail them to you. The things you want may surprise you, but remember that this is part of self-care and survival.
There will be some days when all you want is chocolate and a good cry. Save your 'sick days' from work, your midnight Skype calls, and your social currency for those occasions. Speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love who was having a hard time. Ask for help. Don't try Viking your way through it, or you will inevitably end up burnt out and ready to hop on the first plane home, leaving your shiny new life behind.
Remember why you moved in the first place. It can be easy to lose sight of the good in the inevitable depression that hits after the honeymoon phase in your destination country has worn off. However, if you can keep your eyes on the reasons you relocated, you will eventually move through the darkness and find yourself rewarded with new roots, and stories your friends from school don't have. Your CV will be stronger for living abroad, learning new languages, and getting different experience to your peers. Moving countries is always worthwhile, and a very rewarding adventure, even though there are days when the point of it all will evade you. If you have any other advice for surviving moving countries, add it in the comments below.