Getting settled after your PCS to Europe
Moving to Europe has been exciting, but stressful. Your adrenaline rush is coming to an end, and you have so much to do. Now is not the time to come unglued; here is some advice to help you remain composed during this wild time in your life.
Your first few weeks may be rough as your body adjusts to the changes in climate, sunlight hours and time zone in Europe. Your to-do list is also weighing on you, making it difficult to sleep and concentrate. It is important to take care of your physical and emotional needs now, more than ever, so that you can get through the initial months here.
Sleep: Make sure that you sleep seven to eight hours each night. Set a schedule to go to sleep and wake up; stop what you are doing and take some downtime before bed to make it easier to fall asleep. When the alarm goes off, get up, no matter how groggy you feel. If you sleep three hours late, you’ll stress about your to-do list and won’t be ready to hit the hay at night, throwing off your sleep pattern.
Avoid caffeine late in the day because it can leave you too wired to sleep. And keep a pen and paper by your bed in case you remember something that needs to be accomplished. Once you write it down, you can rest easy.
Practice relaxation techniques or download a sleep app to help your body wind down for sleep. Or try a natural remedy, such as chamomile tea, decaffeinated green tea or a melatonin supplement. If your sleepless struggle continues, talk to a physician.
Nutrition: Even though you’re busy, don’t succumb to three greasy fast-food meals a day. Eating healthy foods boosts your immune system, increases energy levels and improves your state of mind.
If you’re still in temporary lodging without kitchen facilities, stock up on healthy snacks, such as dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, veggies and whole-grain crackers. Purchase a Styrofoam cooler and ice to keep yogurt, cheese and lunchmeat cold. Stop by the commissary or deli for ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches. Make smart menu choices when dining out.
Enrich your nutrition with a daily multivitamin. During the European winter, the lack of sunlight can slow your body’s production of vitamin D, so take a supplement and consume foods high in vitamin D, such as fish, eggs (whites and yolks), mushrooms, and fortified milk or orange juice.
Once you are in a home with a kitchen, set an easy-to-follow, balanced menu to ensure that your family has healthy meals, the grocery list is complete, and that you have a plan during the busy week.
Exercise: Physical activity promotes longer, deeper sleep that will help you during your adjustment. Exercise also increases your energy level and releases endorphins, which can lower stress levels and positively affect your mood.
Get out and walk or run, purchase workout videos, or visit your installation’s fitness facility. Maintain variety to improve the effectiveness of your workout, avoid muscle injury and prevent boredom (which will squelch your motivation).
Relaxation: Even though time seems to be against you, if you go non-stop, you are bound to run down. Recharge your batteries by taking time out for something you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, practicing yoga, having a date night or playing games with the kids. Your to-do list is not going to spontaneously combust because you take a couple of hours for yourself and your family.
With so much to do and remember, you need to set up a daily to-do list and prioritize tasks. Use the checklists throughout this guide to help you get organized. If you don’t complete something on your list today, don’t beat yourself up, but put it at the top of tomorrow’s list.
Break down major endeavors, into smaller steps that need to be completed. Instead of putting “find a house” on your to-do list, list the steps to accomplish that will assist you in reaching the goal, such as “visit the Housing Office,” “call two realtors” and “schedule three appointments.” Prioritize each item and focus on finishing those that are most important or must be completed first.
Once you have a to-do list ready, complete a spreadsheet of expenses and add in your allowances and reimbursements. This will give you a clear picture of how much money you need on hand to accomplish each item on your to-do list. You’ll be able to make arrangements and prioritize; you may discover that purchasing an AFN decoder will have to wait or that you’ll need to hold off on signing up for the premium plan with your smartphone.
When your household goods arrive, list items on classifieds and yard-sale websites to sell excess clutter. Also post your moving boxes; people are always looking to stockpile for their PCS.
As your new life comes together, it’s time to get involved in your new community. Participate in your children’s school activities and organizations, join area clubs, try new hobbies, volunteer and reach out to your neighbors to build new friendships. Also read our personal enrichment article for educational and employment opportunities.