Dealing with Relocation Stress

March 9, 2011

by Ingrid

One of the big challenges of PCSing is the stress that comes with it. The idea of leaving behind established relationships and familiar places to journey to the unknown can make anyone’s stomach flip. Although some deal with it better than others, a few tips on coping with relocation stress are always helpful.

First, be able to recognize the signs of relocation stress. Physical signs may include:

  • backaches
  • stomach aches
  • sweaty palms
  • rapid heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

An individual may be showing emotional signs of stress if he or she becomes:

  • irritable
  • moody
  • depressed
  • withdrawn

Relocation stress may cause someone to cry frequently, experience feelings of panic, have trouble sleeping, or have nightmares. Nail biting, gnashing of teeth, and difficulty focusing are also common indicators.

How do you deal with this?

Plan your work then work your plan. It’s important you gain a sense of control over the relocation. Make a list of everything that needs to be done—this will literally take things off your mind. Then, prioritize and plan when you will do each task. With each day focus only on those day’s tasks. By narrowing your focus to a few things rather than the entire list, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and, in turn, less stressed.

Remember common stress relievers. Calling a friend or relative to talk can help relieve your burden. Doing a hobby for 30 minutes will distract your mind and give you a break. Exercising and laughing are natural stress relievers—try going for a jog or watching your favorite comedy.

Try relaxation techniques. When you’re feeling stressed, stop. Stand or sit still, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Breathe in deeply for 10 seconds, hold it for 10 seconds, then breathe out for another 10. Another technique is to lie down in a comfortable place, play soothing music and turn down the lights. One by one, tense each part of your body for 10 seconds, then release (for example, make tight fists with your hands, then relax and repeat with your biceps). Do this until all parts of your body have been relaxed.

Don’t do it alone. Remember to count on a friend or loved one during this difficult phase. Know the resources you have available to you that will help your move become easier. As always, you may call Military OneSource’s Private Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-342-9647.

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