How does change of place affect mental health? How can you get adjusted to the new place?

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How does change of place affect mental health? How can you get adjusted to the new place?

Heraclitus once said “The only constant in life, is change”, and it certainly is so. We go through innumerable changes in our existence and irony is that it nevertheless is uncomfortable; and also a very confounding phenomenon. It is something that we are constantly in the pursuit of and on the contrary, struggle, when it comes! Struggling can be equated with suffering. As inevitable as it is, the way we perceive and deal with it can have a huge impact on whether we suffer gracefully or not. When suffering becomes unbearable, our mental health can take a blow and our well-being, challenged. This article will address the following:

  1. How change in place/change in itself affects our mental health
  2. Manifestation in terms of symptomatology
  3. Healthy coping

Effects of change/change in place on our mind and body:

As discussed in the introduction, change can temporarily stress/distress the mind and body. Humankind, since times immemorial like to have a routine or stay in the comfort of familiarity. It makes us feel ‘in control’ of things. When this gets disrupted by a change in place of residence or work; or any other change like marriage/divorce and loss of any kind, can have adverse effects on our well-being as a whole.

Change is not always unpleasant. However, even if it is a desired one, it can still encompass a multitude of things that we would not have accounted for. For instance, one could be very excited about relocating to a different country. But once that is done, he/she may start feeling overwhelmed about how much adjustment one has to make in the process. Like, setting up a new home, forming new meaningful relationships, lifestyle changes, finding relevant stores, understanding a different culture and ways of operating, understanding the neighborhood and related practices and the list goes on.

Optimal amount of stress can facilitate the process of healthy adjustment. However, it does require time and effort to reach the space of comfort and safety. Some noticeable difficulties relating to mental health on the way to creating a safe and comfortable living can be:

  • Mood can become unstable,
  • emotions, dysregulated,
  • withdrawn/over-reliance in relationships
  • psychosomatic disturbances (physiologically unexplained bodily concerns) &
  • fatigue resulting from activities that we don’t do on a regular basis.

All of the above usually resolve when things have settled down and should approximately take about 2 to 3 months for the mind and body to come to grips with the change in question. In the case of these not going away or getting worse over time, it could be indicative of a mental health concern.

Diagnostic considerations:

When an individual displays behavior that are uncharacteristic of them consistently while going through the process of change and lasts for many months, he/she could be diagnosed with ‘adjustment disorder’.

Adjustment disorder according to the ICD-10 – Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders is:

“States of subjective distress and emotional disturbance, usually interfering with social functioning and performance, and arising in the period of adaptation to a significant life change or to the consequences of a stressful life event (including the presence or possibility of serious physical illness). The stressor may have affected the integrity of an individual's social network (through bereavement or separation experiences) or the wider system of social supports and values (migration or refugee status). The stressor may involve only the individual or also his or her group or community”.

This can further be classified into:

  • Brief or prolonged depressive reaction
  • Mixed anxiety and depressive reaction
  • Predominant disturbance of other emotions The symptoms are usually of several types of emotion, such as anxiety, depression, worry, tensions, and anger.
  • Disturbances of conduct.

Tips and tricks to healthy coping:

  1. Watch out for an unhelpful attitude: This primarily suggests that change may have potential to make us feel pessimistic or cause a lot of unpleasant thought patterns causing unrest and deterioration. Remember to have a kind attitude towards yourself and give yourself the reassurance that is needed. Also, avoid comparing the present situation with the past. This can have detrimental effects and cause a disruption in the adjustment process.

  1. Take charge of the things you have control over: It is but natural for us to become fixated on the things that we hardly have any control over. This makes us feel more powerless. Instead, take stock of the things that are in your control and keep performing actions that would empower you.

  1. Practice self-care: Make sure to eat and sleep sufficiently, exercise regularly and keep in touch with loved ones. These are some of the things that are fully in our control as well.

  1. Practice mindfulness and relaxation practices:

The ability to be in the present moment, is a very handy skill and can aid in dealing with overwhelming thoughts/feelings/emotions in effective ways. It will require practice but it is a good time to start learning this skill.
Relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation on a regular basis can help recover from fatigue.

  1. Seek professional help : A mental health professional can help you navigate through the challenging times. It could help with the process of acceptance and provide a space for safe sharing. This may in turn engineer one towards an enhanced life.

Also read,

How does depression affect your daily life? Where to seek help in Bangalore?

What happens in individual therapy and where can I find an individual therapist in Bangalore?

What does OCD look like? How to deal with it? Find an individual therapist in Bangalore.

Irritability- What to understand? How to manage and where to avail mental health service in Bangalore?

Benefits of individual therapy and best individual therapist in Bangalore.

Therapy for anxiety and where to find appropriate services in Bangalore.

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