Comfort in a new flat

A reader asked:

This may be a strange question and isn’t really related to social skills, so I apologize if it’s a wrong place to ask. I’m autistic and recently I moved flats. I lived in the old one for 15 years. No matter how much I try, I don’t feel at home in my new flat. I can’t relax, it doesn’t feel like my safe place. I feel alien and it makes me stressed and tired. Do you (or your followers) have any idea what I can try to do to get used to it? It’s a new place, new furniture, and nothing feels right.

realsocialskills said:

It might be a matter of time. If you wait long enough, things might start seeming more familiar.

But in the mean time:

I wonder if it would help to do some really familiar things?

  • Like, do you have a go-to TV show that you’ve watched over and over? Or a book you’ve read a zillion times?
  • Reading/watching that a whole bunch of times in your new place might help it to feel comfortable and familiar.
  •  Are there foods that smell or taste like comfort to you?
  • Like, do you like the smell of cookies baking? Did you bake in your old place? If so, baking here might help too.
  •  Or ordering a kind of food you ordered a lot.
  • Are there stim toys or blocks or anything that feel comforting and familiar to you? If so, using them might help.  (I never really feel at home in a new place until I’ve made a pattern with my pattern blocks.)
  •  Do you have the same blankets you used to have? If not, it might help to get some that are similar.

Also, it’s worth checking around your place to see whether something is actually bothering you. It might feel like unfamiliarity when it’s actually that you’re physically uncomfortable, for instance:

  • Are the lightbulbs in your new place bothering you? Some people find florescent bulbs intolerable. If your old place had incandescent bulbs and your new place has CFLs, changing the lights might help.
  • How is the temperature? If the air is uncomfortable, you won’t feel as good in a place. Turning the temperature up or down, or getting a fan, might help.
  • Are there noises that bother you? Or is it too quiet? If so, wearing headphones or turning on background noise that you like (music, white noise, TV, etc) might make you more comfortable