You’re gonna make it after all!

Chico transplant Florence Soares-Dabalos is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice specializing in women’s issues, life transitions, stress, grief and loss.

Recently I was feeling homesick for Sacramento. I lived in the capital city for 16 years before moving to Chico. Loneliness and longing overcame me—again! I’d been asking myself the same question many have asked me: “What brought you to Chico?”

Moving to a new town where everyone is a stranger and starting all over can produce anxiety, stress and excitement. And, it requires one to create his/her personal support network to get through the transition.

According to the Mental Health America Web site, “Social support can help you get through stressful times by providing a sense of belonging, self-worth and security.” In my private practice as a psychotherapist, I see clients who are experiencing stressful life transitions (like moving), and they cite their biggest challenge as lack of social support. This can cause depression and anxiety.

Therefore, in the wake of graduations and on the heels of Mental Health Awareness Month, I am offering a few suggestions for building connections to a happier life:

Family and friends: Commit to important relationships and plan to spend time together. As the MHA site states, “Looking forward to special activities boosts our spirits, gives us energy and makes us more productive.”

Spirituality: When I first moved here, I attended Faith Lutheran Church and was welcomed immediately. I also took advantage of their Stephen Ministry program. I encourage you to seek support from your spiritual/religious community. Or you can consider offering support. When I was grieving last year, I offered to run a grief support group at Bidwell Presbyterian and ended up receiving more support than I gave.

Service organizations: As a member of Soroptimist International, I have met many wonderful women who not only support the community at large, but also support and care for each other.

Volunteer: Think about what is important to you, and donate your time and talent to a worthy endeavor. Not only will you be helping your community, but you just might make friends who share similar interests.

Have fun: Check out the local parks and recreation department, local dance and art studios, local colleges, and the Chico News & Review’s weekly calendar for activities, social events and groups.

Seek help: If the life transition has become overwhelming and you are experiencing isolation, loneliness, low energy, frustration, anger, or panic, are having trouble concentrating, call a professional.

By now you might be asking, “What did bring her to Chico?” That leads to my final suggestion: Remember your values, and then stay aligned with them. I appreciate a relaxed lifestyle, cleaner air, and friendly people. That’s what brought me to Chico.