Numerous studies have already demonstrated that moving frequently throughout one’s childhood can have negative effects on overall wellbeing and satisfaction later on in life. But, what about when the nomadic lifestyle continues into your adult life? Many millennials have adopted the nomadic tradition of moving to a new city or town every few years, months, or for some, even weeks. This habit could result from work-related forces or just a desire to see the world while one is still young and relatively un-committed to other life responsibilities, such as spouses and children.
The independence that comes with young adulthood can be thrilling because you’re finally on your own with minimal—albeit, perhaps, financial—influence from your parents or guardians. Moreover, when you’re constantly moving around or traveling, you have the opportunity to start afresh or reinvent yourself each time you settle. “Starting fresh” has been shown to “declutter” the mind and the body and ultimately create a healthier headspace as one lets go of one’s past and embraces the hope and excitement that accompanies new opportunities.
That being said, the modern nomad is bound to encounter some troubles on his or her journeys. One such obstacle is the simple fact that not everyone is suited for independence—at least not in the nomadic sense. Some researchers at Stanford believe this kind of lifestyle increases one’s susceptibility to depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, the lack of a permanent community can exacerbate the inevitable problems that one experiences through life. It is hard enough trying to make it in the world as a young adult, and when there’s no support system to advise or console you on a consistent basis, the world can become a scarier and lonelier place than it has to be.
Social scientists have noted that trends in society point suggest that Americans have relatively fewer close friendships than adults in similar nations. We prides ourselves on the independent spirit of Americans and in our desire to explore. These are not inherently bad qualities, and traveling and moving from location-to-location is not an inherently poor choice of lifestyle.
The key to avoiding or coping with the loneliness and depression that can sometimes accompany this lifestyle is an approach that combines the principles of community, some form of stability, and resilience.
As far as community is concerned, not all friendships will last, but those that are important to you are worth maintaining. If you have a close relationship with your family, take advantage of it. Skype or FaceTime with your parents or siblings regularly. Send postcards to your best friends and give people an address to send you care packages. If you’ve just moved thousands of miles away for a new job and know literally no one, make an effort to hang out with you coworkers outside of work. This may not always be ideal, and it will probably be awkward at first, but it can lead to making broader connections with people outside of your workplace and can even increase your dating pool if that’s something that’s important to you.
Make sure to have some sort of consistency in your lifestyle no matter where you find yourself. Psychology has demonstrated that people need consistency in their lives to be happy. Whether this means finding a place of faith to attend in your new town or travel destination, making sure you run every day or making an effort to journal as much as you can, this stability will help you deal with what can sometimes seem like the onslaught of complications that life may bring.
Finally, when trouble does strike—because not everything about your new life thousands of miles away or even your two weeks backpacking through the Swiss Alps will be perfect—let yourself bounce back. This isn’t so much of an “always expect the worst” mantra as it is an invocation to be prepared for obstacles with a healthy coping strategy. When you find yourself dealing with major or minor issue on your own, the first reaction might be to freak out. After that phase, you need to have a game plan. Formulate different scenarios for things that could go wrong on your journey or new life alone. This preemptive strategy can practically make your transient lifestyle a piece of cake.