Dealing with micro-stressors when moving to a new country

Dealing with micro-stressors when moving to a new country

Much is written and spoken about the large stressful changes you must deal with when moving to a new country, such as how to find a moving company, get a job, rent a house or get your children into schools. These are important parts of the moving process, so it's no wonder that we dwell on them.

But what about all those other much smaller things? Those everyday micro-stressors and decisions that you face, which can quickly add up to an avalanche of emotion and stress? It's equally important to acknowledge these - here are some micro-stressors I came up against after moving.

1. Getting lost

And I don't only mean this only metaphorically. When you don't know the landscape of where you are - whether it's the roads, the train routes or the bicycle lanes, you spend a lot of time losing your way. And Google Maps can only get you so far - it's the local knowledge you miss, like knowing which roads are crammed on a Friday afternoon, how to use your travel card correctly (don't forget to check out!), or that Sunday train timetables are much more reduced.

2. Navigating the grocery store

Where do they keep the sour cream? Or the popcorn kernels? How does self-check-out work and what are those wand-like things for? Why can't you pay with a credit card? Which shop makes the best cheese? Those regular family favourites you used to make for dinner each week back home may not be suitable or even possible here, so your entire diet may have to change. Eventually you'll find your favourite bakery and your fresh vegetable store, and know the cheapest place to buy washing machine tablets, but this all takes a while (and a lot of trial and error).

3. Finding a dentist and a doctor

Medical professionals play a huge part in your overall health and happiness, so it's no wonder that these changes can have a deep impact. Health systems also differ considerably from country to country, and adjusting to a new normal can be particularly challenging, especially if you or someone in your family has a health condition. Families with young kids can also find it challenging, as their go-to family doctor is no longer on speed dial, and instead they must see a different GP each time, ones that they don't have a relationship with.

4. Daily essentials and products

What do you do when your favourite skincare from home runs out? Why can't you find good comfortable underwear? Where's the best place for a haircut? From toiletries to medication, clothing to décor, you leave behind many familiar favourites and while there are a host of new and exciting products to discover - there are some items that are difficult to find alternatives for (and this process of discovery also includes loads of mistakes!).

Dealing with the micro-stressors

These micro-stressors are subliminal, but they all add up to how your days, weeks and months in your new home will look, so they are not inconsequential. The best thing is to ask a local friend for advice, face each small change as a micro-challenge and eventually you'll be swiping that travel card with a smile, as you head off to your favourite cheese shop to buy a block of jong belegen.

Belinda Mountain


Belinda Mountain

Belinda is a writer, author and digital marketing consultant who has lived in London, Europe and South Africa over the past 20 years. Her writing has been published in The...

Read more



Leave a comment