I am born and bred New Yorker, but two years ago, I made the decision to pack up my life and move across the country from Brooklyn to San Francisco, motivated by a new job, a rekindling of a romance, and most significantly, by a deep desire for a big adventure. My love for New York City runs deep, but I was longing for a change of scenery, and the glamorized “left coast” felt like the perfect place to make some new memories.
Moving across the country—at least logistically—was far easier than I thought it would be: I packed, sold what couldn’t be transported, booked a one-way ticket, and went. But emotionally, the move tugged on my heart strings as I underestimated how difficult it would be to leave my east coast tribe. Now that it’s been two years I can say confidently that I love my life in California.
Life transitions are never easy, but leaning on my wellness practices helped. These are the top five things I learned, which work not only for a move, but for any major shift we experience in life.
Ditch What You Don’t Love: Only things that you absolutely love should take up space in your life. From the teachings of Marie Kondo: If it doesn't spark joy upon touching it, it isn't worth holding on to. This made my packing extra light (I boarded a plane with two big suitcases!), but unpacking was also a super pleasant experience because I had a true affinity for every single item that I kept.
Walking—Do a Lot of It: The best way to see a new city is by strapping on your sneakers and exploring. About a month into my move I challenged myself to take a solo trip to a new part of the city each week. These excursions help me navigate my new home and helped distract me when I would start to feel homesick or overwhelmed.
Focus on Present Sensations: I tasked myself to keep my thoughts focused on present sensations. Every time I caught my thoughts spiraling I would encourage my mind to come back to my surroundings and focus on what I was seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing. This practice kept me focused and mindful while exploring my new 'hood and allowed me to notice all the little details that would have previously eluded me—from the cherry blossoms in Golden Gate Park to the sand dollars on Ocean Beach. This mindfulness practice was extremely beneficial during my move, but it can help you stay grounded no matter the transition.
Find Creative Ways to Discover Community: Finding like-minded individuals to spend time with is one of the most effective ways to make a new place start to feel like “home”. I used Meetup to find events related to my passions and met tons of people with similar interests. ConsciousCityGuide is another great resource for events in the health and wellness space—both platforms have enabled me to find my new tribe.
Embrace Free Time: After living a jam-packed life in New York City, I found it jarring and often lonely to have a less than full social calendar. However, once I shifted my mindset to gratitude for all the free time now available, I began to appreciate the freedom to pursue creative passions I had previously been neglecting—from daily journaling to watercolor painting.
Have you experienced a major transition in life where your wellness practices helped ground you? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. - Leah Abrahams