The question: My husband was offered a job that we couldn't refuse and we recently moved to Alberta from Ontario as a result. Now I'm horribly homesick. He is doing well because he is very busy at the office, but I am struggling to find a job and I miss my friends and family. Moving back home is not an option right now. How do I make Calgary a happy place to live?
The answer: A geographical transition can be highly disruptive and emotional. In fact, moving to a new city falls high on the list of life stressors.
It can be particularly hard to move the older we get, leaving an established job and set of social networks. Layered onto this is the complexity that comes along with making a decision that it sounds like you didn't necessarily want to make, but felt was in the best interests of your husband's career.
First, be honest with yourself about where you stand with the move. Did you wholeheartedly support the decision knowing that it would not only be good for your husband's career, but your overall family? Did you hold back on expressing your sentiments about the move? Did you feel like you couldn't say no?
The decision has been made and as you have conveyed, moving back isn't an option right now. However, if there are things that have been unsaid, you need to express them to your husband. Being open and honest with your partner about your feelings (even if you didn't express them before) will help him understand your perspective, provide you support in the best way he can (both emotionally and from a pragmatic standpoint), and perhaps most importantly can help to quash resentment that could be building toward him.
In addition to speaking to your husband, try to create as much of a routine as you can – we are creatures of habit, and tend to adapt to new situations with more ease when we have predictability in our routine. This may be a challenge given your struggle to find a job, but in the interim create some structure to your day. Have a set wakeup time that parallels when you would normally rise for work. Parcel out a few hours every morning that you can dedicate to searching for a job, ideally with your laptop in a coffee shop (just being in the presence of others can improve our mood). Find a local gym or yoga/pilates studio that you can join – this can be a nice way to strike up new friendships with people who live in your neighbourhood.
And, schedule in lots of phone/Skype/Facetime moments with friends and family at home. This may require some advance planning given time zones, but can be a nice way for you to ensure you are staying connected with those you love and care about especially during the first few weeks and months of your transition.
Be patient with yourself and keep an open mind to knowing that you will get to a point where you will start to feel positive about your new city; maybe you won't view it as a permanent home, but a new home for now.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational & media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network's Million Dollar Neighbourhood and is the psychological consultant to CITY-TV's The Bachelor Canada. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra .
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