Stressed Out? (Relocating families may be, too!)

Did you know that individuals and families in relocation are more susceptible to illness than those who are not in the midst of major life transitions?

 

It’s all related to stress… distress (those negative events and circumstances that disrupt our lives) and eustress (good things that happen, but still cause disruption). Two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, identified Life Change Units (LCUs) back in the late ‘60’s, and created the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to help individuals assess their risk of psychosomatic illness based on the stress in their lives. (You can check out the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory HERE.) The theory goes that individuals who acquire 150 to 300 points have a 50% higher risk of a major health breakdown over the subsequent two years; those who acquire 300 points or more are 80% more likely to encounter major health concerns.

 

To illustrate, consider how people who are changing jobs and moving can rack up LCUs points (in parentheses) quickly:

  • Major business readjustment (39)
  • Major change in financial state (38)
  • Taking on a mortgage (31)
  • Major change in responsibilities at work (29)
  • Outstanding personal achievement (28)
  • Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home (26)
  • Major change in living condition (25)
  • Major changes in working hours or conditions (20)
  • Changes in residence (20)
  • Changing to a new school (20)
  • Major change in church/social/recreational activities (19-20 pts. each)

 

If you add in a Split-Family Relocation which causes a marital separation from partner (65) and subsequent reconciliation (45), a relocating employee can quickly add up well over 300 points in a short period of time. (And that doesn’t even count all the “normal” stressors associated with daily living, such as holidays (12) and a change in sleeping habits (16).)

 

Relocation professionals who work with families in transition can be advocates by recognizing and supporting stressors and encouraging the families they support to engage in activities that support wellness.

 

The National Wellness Institute, founded in 1977, identifies six components of wellness:

 

Helping clients acclimate to a new community and facilitating opportunities for transferees and their families to meet peers contributes to Social Wellness.

 

Physical Wellness, becoming physically fit and consuming nutritious food, can be supported by helping to identify healthy food sources, locating fitness facilities and encouraging family time for physical activity.

 

Intellectual Wellness includes engaging in creative, stimulating mental activity.  Relocated employees immerse themselves in new work activities, but accompanying partners appreciate help in identifying meaningful pursuits, particularly after the logistics of the move are settled.

 

Everyone needs a sense of purpose, and Occupational Wellness refers to personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work.  Spouses who have left careers behind may need support exploring employment options in a new location.

 

Emotional Wellness is the degree to which an individual feels positive and enthusiastic about his or her life.  Encouraging employees and their families to examine how they feel about the changes that have occurred due to their move helps them to accept these changes and make forward-looking plans.

 

Spiritual Wellness relates to an individual’s search for meaning and purpose.  Living in a way that is consistent with closely-held values promotes growth in this area.

 

Recognizing common stressors of families in transition, as well as the components of wellness can support relocating families to achieve to successful transitions.

 

Amy Connelly (aconnelly@reacareers.com) is REA’s Manager of Training and Resource Development.