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Managing stress during an ADF family move
ADF families can experience stress when moving, as it can be one of the most stressful activities a family or individual can experience. There are many reasons for this, mostly due to the many unknowns.
Questions may arise such as, what will it be like to move to another suburb or state? How will my loved ones adjust to new friends, school or work? Will we enjoy the new home?
Even though there can be many positives in a move, such as a fresh start, more opportunities or a better lifestyle, nevertheless you may need to consider the impact a move may have on you and your family. Developing strategies and becoming aware of the impact of a relocation is the start to making the transition a positive one.
ADF families also will need to manage their children’s emotions and concerns when relocating. School age children are likely to be more affected since they would have created friendships which can be hard to leave. They may be a part of a sports team or an extracurricular club they feel closely connected to. So what can we do to try and minimise the amount of anxiety and stress around this life event? Here are a few suggestions to help your family with the transition:
Find a good time to tell them
When you announce the move make sure they are in a good mood, without distractions and that you are available for a few hours after to discuss their concerns. Children can take a while to process information so it is good to be on hand, should they express any issues.
Research the new area together
Make it fun for your children by showing them a map of their new neighbourhood. Research together parks, movie theatres, theme parks or anything else they may find fun and exciting.
Give them some control
Ask them how they would like their new room to look. How would they like to decorate it? Giving them control of the move will help them deal with the stress and anxiety much better.
Whilst being mindful of the children’s adjustment, don’t forget to take care of yourself. It’s not only children that can experience stress during a relocation, so here are a few tips for adults/parents:
Plan ahead and start early
Planning and being organised weeks prior to the move will decrease any last minute panic moments with deadlines looming. Creating a moving list will help you feel in control of the situation and make it more satisfying once you see the checklist being ticked off!
Take the chance to declutter
Clutter can cause anxiety, stress and fatigue. Take this time to declutter and make space. Make a list of things to sell, donate and keep. This will also reduce your moving time as well.
Reach out and accept help
It’s okay to reach out to friends, family and your ADF community to ask for help during these times. Many resources are also available for Defence families. If you or your family members are finding the move difficult please reach out to resources here:
Look after your mental health
Our mental health is as important as our physical health, but many of us forget to practice good mental wellbeing.
- Exercise – a healthy body can equal a healthy mind.
- Eat well – sugar highs and lows can affect our gut health and our mental health.
- Take a break – remember to rest and get a good night’s sleep, fatigue and sleep deprivation can contribute to anxiety and mental health issues.
- Ask for help – talking to someone will help you cope with stress during difficult times.
- Meditate – meditation can improve focus, productivity and mental wellbeing.
As an ADF family, moving can be a common occurrence so having strategies in place that can alleviate stress and build on your resilience is essential for your overall wellbeing.
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