How moving cities for work impacts your mental health.

st pauls cathedral

How moving cities for work impacts on your mental health.

I have now become an official London commuter. I take the train from Oxford to London Marylebone every morning, pay an extortionate amount of money to do so, and battle with god knows how many others to get a seat on the train, which allows me the privilege of not having to look anyone else in the eye on the hour-long journey. Like a real Brit. I now get up at 6am, and don’t usually get home til about 13 hours later, if I’m lucky.

If I moved to London, as I probably eventually will, I’d be paying the same amount or more to live in a flat, from which I’ll have a different journey to the tube station, to battle with god knows how many others for a coveted seat instead of avoiding armpits on the Northern line. Like a real Londoner.

You might think I don’t like the fact I work in London (I actually love it). It’s just an adjustment.

I’ve moved cities, it happens to most of us. Whilst it’s all still pretty new, it’s making me more resilient – there are good and bad bits, but what I keep noticing is that no matter what, I’m getting through it, somehow.

Don’t get me wrong – I love London, but working in a new city is always an adjustment, particularly if you’re far from home. You have to come up with a whole new routine, and sometimes it can take a while for you to feel fully comfortable. I’m finding this now, and I know it’ll happen again when I eventually move.


You’re thinking about how long it’ll take you to get from home to your new office, how to navigate that journey if trains aren’t on time or delayed, where you’ll get your coffee from, where you’ll go for lunch, who you will/won’t go to lunch with, how you’ll meet friends, how you’ll get home again…I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

I’ve never been one of those people who gets excited by the unknown. It terrifies me, because I don’t know how to control the situation to make it more comfortable for me. It’s a symptom of my anxiety disorder, but it’s something I’m working on, and finding a routine works best for me. As soon as I know what train to get, what time I like to have lunch, which places I like to go to, how to get home etc, my anxiety drops back down to normal. It takes time, but you do eventually get there.

Moving to another city can be tough as well. When I moved to uni, I really struggled – even in my second and third years, when I knew Southampton like the back of my hand. I was very anxious because I was in a new environment, with a new setup, and had to then readjust that previous routine. The readjustment is the worst part, and this can have a huge effect on your mental health.

Just go with it.

If I’ve learnt anything about dealing with anxiety, it’s to just let it happen. Don’t fight it, or it’ll feel a million times worse. Keep yourself busy – find that new routine. Force yourself to visit new places, talk to new people, and you’ll see how much you can do. You’ll feel more confident and happier, because as soon as you try something, it’s no longer unknown. You may not like it, but at least you know what it’s like, and it doesn’t feel so scary or uncomfortable anymore.

As I’m settling in, I’m starting to enjoy being somewhere different every day. It gets me up and about, it gives me a new breathing space and a different atmosphere. I feel that bit freer, and I realise it’s just a part of growing.

‘Growth is uncomfortable because you’ve never been here before – you’ve never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breathe through it.’ – Kristin Lohr

Growing sometimes means change, but change doesn’t always have to be bad. We always seem to assume it will be, particularly if we were happy or satisfied in our previous situation, but how do we know that what’s to come isn’t going to be even better? Or perfect, even?

I deal with change by finding that routine. But that’s scary too, so I try to look after and pace myself. I meet with friends, I find nice places for lunch, I take a book with me everywhere, so I’m always distracted…whatever works for you. It won’t happen overnight, but it’ll happen quicker than you imagine.

Change is the only thing that’s inevitable and our brains struggle with it, because we like our comfort zones and our regular coffees and our number 5 buses.

All we can do is make the most of what we have in front of us, be grateful for what it is, and not think too much about the past or the future. Focus on the right now, because this exact moment will never happen again!

Written by: Maeve Waite

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