Managing Stress

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Moving involves hassles, inconveniences, and endless opportunities for things to go wrong. Paring down your possessions may feel freeing, or devastating. New places, with their sights, smells, and sounds, pack an emotional wallop. Finding new work, friends, and activities can take longer than expected. All of this, good and bad, equals stress, which can suppress your immune system and affect your health.

Many of us, when faced with stressful situations, seek "immediate comfort," like a few drinks or eating sugary, high-carb foods. Instead, try some of the suggestions below. It may seem illogical to take time out when you have too much to do, but increased energy and a sense of well-being will enable you to work more efficiently when you return to your tasks. (See Reference 3)

  • Lower your expectations! Allow much more time than you ordinarily would for each item on your "to do" list. Alternate high and low stress tasks.
  • Exercise! It clears the brain, drains off anxiety, and helps you physically relax. (be sure to stretch afterwards).
  • Eat nutritiously, drink plenty of clean water, and avoid caffeine, junk food, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Get enough sleep and take plenty of breaks, doing things that you enjoy.
  • Enlist your old and new support network. Use your support system and email or talk to people who have lived in the place you’re going. It will help you feel more in control. Knowledge is power.
  • Use the move as an excuse to avoid people who ratchet up the tension.
  • Accept help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from people at post. Remember, embassy communities are very transient, and people are usually more than willing to reach out and assist you.
  • Maintain your religious / spiritual practices.
  • Find safe ways to express your emotions.
  • Use classic stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing (repeating a positive phrase if helpful), meditating, listening to music, or going on walks.
  • Allow for "veg-out" time. Quiet, no-brainer time gives you the ability to recharge your batteries. Reward yourself when you need it.
  • Use your familiar routine. A familiar routine feels good in the face of uncertainty. It's something you can count on.