I’m back! For realz this time.
Before I return to catching up on the crazy wedding and spamming you all with pictures, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on relocation and beginning a new chapter of your life.
Finding yourself in a new city, a new job or a new relationship all inevitably lead to a phase of adjustment. Either one of those can be difficult to deal with at first. In a way, I just went through all three of these experiences wrapped neatly into one explosive package. Well, I am not in a new relationship – don’t worry, I haven’t sent Mr.Li packing right after the wedding (yet, anyways). Though after two years of living in Nanjing on my own, and being in a relationship with myself if you like, it has proven quite the challenge to come to grips with being a couple again. More on that later.
I have to admit that once the dust had settled and the stress and excitement of having to find a flat to live in wore off, I suddenly found myself in a downward emotional spiral. Getting used to work was tougher than I thought in some ways because it was just quite different from what I was used to. Neither was I continuing with any of my Nanjing routine. Within the space of a few weeks I felt very lost, like I had no purpose in being in Beijing, except for being a medal wife maybe (I didn’t even think I deserved to be called a trophy wife because that would suggest an achievement). Every day after work I came home and slumped down on the sofa, binge watching TV series and doing absolutely nothing with my life. I had to get out of this funk. Here is how I did it:
1. Keep your routine going
This is probably the most important item on the list. It’s so easy when there is crazy moving house and cities or traveling going on, to drop your pre-change routine and get sucked into a dark hole of nothingness. Did you know that if you do something continuously for two weeks it becomes a habit? After two weeks of TV and movie marathons, I became painfully aware of that fact. It was time to get back to something more productive. My main issue was that the rock climbing hobby I had acquired in Nanjing was proving difficult to maintain in Beijing where such gyms are few and far apart. I did find a solution in the end and so will you. Whatever it is you did in your “previous life”, painting, working out or writing this blog – make it a priority get back into it as soon as possible. Don’t wait until after you have found that flat, or settled, or work has calmed down. That day will never come. Start now!
2. Create excitement
Hey, you are in a new place, what a great opportunity to explore this unknown environment! There are so many cool restaurants, cafes and little shops hiding behind that corner that you never turn. Don’t go from home to your office and back, go the extra mile and find the fun! Is it is a new relationship you are in, even better. Chances are he or she doesn’t live in the same street you do, so you can explore each other’s areas together. That’s way more fun anyway, isn’t it?
3. Stay away from TV series and computer games
I know it is just so easy to come home to your cozy flat, plop down on that sofa and turn on the TV or PC and drown yourself in drama and virtual realities. DON’T DO IT! Aside from not being very productive (unless you are a film editor, director etc.) and not using your mental capabilities, sitting in front of the TV box too much can actually make you more depressed, as research by the University of Texas has recently shown (aside from increasing the risk of a good binge eating session in accompaniment). Don’t get me wrong, I love watching TV and playing games occasionally, but don’t you want to be doing something more productive with your time?
4. Set yourself a goal
This one I found immensely important. I felt so deflated mainly because I hadn’t found a purpose yet since beginning my new life. I was wallowing. By setting myself the goal of continuing to study Chinese in order to pass a language test, I suddenly had much more energy and motivation. That gave me a more positive outlook and within days most of the frustrations in my life just disappeared. Your goal could be to learn a new skill or perfect an old one, to pass a test or break a record. Working towards something and seeing your own progress works magic for your mental health, I find. It gives you focus.
5. Keep a positive attitude
For me, this is probably one of the biggest difficulties. Though I am generally a happy person, once I slip into a down phase, staying optimistic becomes really difficult. It’s easy to see all the things that didn’t work out and aren’t going according to plan but by letting yourself fall victim to pessimistic tunnel vision you are doing yourself no favours. Try the glass half full approach instead. One good trick Alison Ledgerwood suggests in her TED talk is to every evening tell your partner (or yourself) three good things about your day. Because the mind does cling to negative thoughts and you need to work hard to keep a positive mindset. Reminding yourself of all the good things that you have before you go to sleep seems like a great place to start.
And with that in mind, here are my three great things of today:
A very enlightening conversation at work with my Chinese colleagues, relaxing swim after work and finishing this post.
What are yours?