Independent Living and Coping with Change

Moving away from what you’re used to is a difficult time to go through. You’re suddenly changing up your comfort zone to a whole new one, but while this can seem overwhelming, there are also plenty of benefits and exciting things to look forward to with your new routine.

If you’re someone who is trying to manage a shift to supported independent living or making the switch to NDIS supported housing options, here’s how you can create a smooth transition.

An important note on life-changing experiences

Whether you’re the individual that’s going through this big move, or you’re a friend, loved one or carer, relocating to a new environment is a significant change to go through. No matter how old you are, any shift to a different residence can be a demanding event and is a common cause of
anxiety and stress overall. In fact, there’s even a medical term for it – relocation stress syndrome.

Even if you’ve voluntarily decided to move, this time in your life is a significant change and for the body and mind, it’s only natural to go through the phases of feeling overwhelmed.

The good news is that studies highlighted by HuffPost and the University of Center on Aging indicate that older individuals actually have higher levels of subjective wellbeing and life satisfaction than other age groups. This means ageing Australians have the advantage of being equipped with something called ‘resilient thinking’ and gives the ability to deal with changes much more efficiently.

Beyond older generations and ageing populations, those with disabilities across Australia may also experience similar instances. In one recent study outlined by Counseling.org, those with disabilities are typically found to have several advantageous traits over those without a diagnosed condition. For instance, participants, in this case, were able to demonstrate the ability
to:

a) Learn about, adapt to, and cope with their disability;
b) Manage and adapt to personal functioning;
c) Combat challenges around negative thoughts and feelings as a part of the adaptation process;
d) Deal with societal and attitudinal barriers;
e) Manage feelings associated with loss and disempowerment;
f) Find support around housing and meaningful employment.

With all of this in mind, how can you – or someone you know – use your own force of resilient thinking to cope with moving to independent living?

Involve your support systems wherever possible

There will be lots of decisions to be made during this time – whether it’s assessing independent living options under the NDIS, or figuring out if a whole new suburb is what’s in order. Either way, there will be times you’ll need to sit down and analyse all of the options available, which
means talking to those who can help you (or your loved one) make an informed decision.

This also helps to relieve stress and the pressure of feeling like you may be alone on this journey. There’s always help around the corner, and your close circles of friends and family are those you should lean on during this time. Invite them to your tours or community events and try to get them involved in the process of your move, as much as possible.

Express your feelings

Remember to talk to those around you as much as you can. Tell them how you’re feeling and any emotions you’re going through. If you’re having a particularly difficult time managing your stress, additional support from your GP for your mental health may also be a positive and productive step to take.

There is also no shame in feeling uncomfortable about the new changes waiting on the horizon for you, so it’s always worth expressing them to get clarity, peace of mind and the support you need to move forward.

Take time to familiarise yourself

If you’re transitioning into an NDIS independent living facility, it’s essential to take the time to look around and get comfortable with your environment. Many of these centres have programs designed to welcome new residents, and allow you to feel more at home. There are also plenty of activities and events incorporated into the plans, giving you the opportunity to create new friendships and feel more connected to the residents around you.

For example, at OnTrack Tasmania, we have several mentor and community-driven programs active at our facilities. This helps our residents build confidence, connect with others in the facility and embrace their new lifestyle. These programs also include beneficial strategies like goal setting, upskilling and other meetings – designed to put residents on a supportive and bright path to the future.

If you are the one making the move or a friend of someone making this move, support them by encouraging them to take part in these activities, so they can observe and explore the opportunities available to them.

Use your coping mechanisms

As humans, we all have different ways of coping with life-changing events. For you, that may mean switching on some calm music or retreating to your room for some peace and quiet. No matter how you choose to destress, make sure you allow yourself enough time to do these little activities, as they can make all the difference towards getting comfortable with your new surroundings. Best of all, these are tactics you’re already familiar with, so it incorporates a sense of something familiar into your new lifestyle.

To find out more about how you can make a move to independent housing options without the stress or fuss, get in touch with OnTrack Tasmania now on (03) 9007 0593.

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