What I Learned from the Stress of Moving Across the World

Well here we are, in Barcelona, soaking in that sunshine. The dust has settled, and we are finally able to reflect on what has happened and how far we’ve come. I won’t lie to anyone and tell them it’s easy moving across the world to a foreign land. It’s hard. It tests you, sometimes to the point that you feel like you might break. But it is all 100% worth it because you end up right where you want to be, with new ambitions and new lessons learned.

Here’s what I learned from the stress of moving to Spain…

If it’s hard for you to do or deal with, that means it is making you grow. It means you are becoming better, and stronger, and able to deal with even more challenging things later. For example, shipping my dogs to Spain was incredibly trying for me. There were definitely some very scary moments during the process. Now that it’s over with, I am able to reflect on this experience. A few years ago, I don’t think I would have ever been able to deal with some of the things we experienced with this dog shipment – before I had grown and become stronger. In the future, having been pushed so hard will help to better equip me for even worse, stressful experiences (which will inevitably come).

The stress you take out on others is still your burden alone to bare. Don’t blame others for how you feel. You are in charge of your own emotions. Be responsible for how you feel and the pressure you put on yourself – and the expectations you put on others. I created so much unneeded tension with Joseph not realizing until after the fact that my stress was self-created. We both learned to train our minds to, in hard-to-handle situations, look inward.

You will feel completely insecure in a new place sometimes, and that’s completely natural. Force yourself to branch out (talk to people!) but accept yourself for how you feel and realize it is part of the process. Enjoy the feeling of being new, and embrace the wonderment, instead of turning it into an anxiety. No one is judging you, no one thinks you don’t belong. These are ideas created in your head. Get out of your head!

Early on, there will be some absolutely amazing people you meet that make you feel welcome and a few that will make you want to cry or maybe punch in the face. The good ones will significantly outweigh the bad – so focus your attention on those! Within my first week here, I’ve had people patiently work on my Spanish with me, offer to help get me a job, help me to relax – and people who roll their eyes at me when I try to speak their language or complain about our dogs. People will either encourage you and keep your ambitions high or tear you down. You get to choose which types impact you – so choose the good vibes and ignore the bad.

Don’t dread a potentially uncomfortable situation (and thus, ruin the present moment) because you are scared. To squash this anxiety: Go sit in the sun, breathe deep, and be present. Enjoy where you are right now, applaud yourself for how far you’ve come, don’t think about the future in this moment. I have had to take everything one step at a time and be mindful in order to avoid getting overwhelmed. Me worrying about starting school, finding a job, extending my VISA, etc does nothing to serve me in the present moment. Breaking things down into sizeable chunks is a lot more productive.

Making your new house a home will make a huge difference. It is as simple as buying yourself a pillow and a new cozy blanket. Or a lamp and a piece of artwork you like. Whatever it is that makes your place feel homelike to you, doing this will alleviate a little stress and give you a place that feels like yours to escape to. It will give you something to call your own and help you identify with your new surrounds.

The time change adjustment is real talk, but you’ll make it work. It’s one thing to visit a place and be in site-seeing mode. You are riding that holiday-adrenaline high; you’re tired but you’re still going. Well, moving to the actual place feels different. It’s errands and adjusting to a way of life. It’s not being able to sleep at 2am because your dogs think they are supposed to eat dinner or you just can’t get to sleep in general (because it’s 6pm where you’re from). It’s neighbors waking you up at 7am because they are starting their day and you can hear them through the walls. All of this takes time (no pun intended), but you will be just fine. Be patient. And take those siestas when you need to!

Without this stressful experience, I don’t think these lessons would have really hit me like they have. This is why challenges (of all kinds) are good for us. And this is why I’m thankful we decided to take this giant leap, stress headaches and all.

P.S. Here’s my “lying in the park and relaxing in the Spanish sun” jam. Check it out below!

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