During a relocation, it’s important to figure out ways to deal with the added stress known commonly as moving anxiety. Sometimes the solution is simple, like asking friends and family for help. Other times, moving anxiety can prevent someone from successfully managing a move into a new home. In this case, more intervention might be required.
Moving is difficult. While we are not therapists, we do know some practical ways to manage moving-related stress through careful planning and self-care regimens. Here are some tips that you can use next time you find yourself in tears over a pile of moving boxes.
1. Start with Organization Via Checklists
Before you feel even the slightest tinge of moving anxiety, make sure that you thoroughly plan your move as far out as possible. Sometimes we are forced to move at a moment’s notice, which can put a damper on the planning stage. However, even if you have to move tomorrow, taking 10-15 minutes today to create a game plan should help brace yourself for what’s to come.
Create a moving checklist that is as thorough as possible. Make sure you include a rough budget, timelines, and important dates. An organized move that is written down on paper will ensure things progress more smoothly and reduce unpleasant surprises along the way.
2. Examine the Root Cause of Your Stress
Though self-awareness can be challenging to achieve during the height of a stressful transition, here’s how to stay on top of it. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your move, ask yourself what it is that feels daunting. Is it the cost of the movers? The exhaustion you feel while packing?
Take out a sheet of paper and jot down everything that stresses you out about moving. (See this list of six major factors of moving stress, if you need a place to start.) The simple act of writing your stress points should feel somewhat cathartic. Then, explore each point and figure out if there is a way to alleviate some of the issues.
One factor you write may be Packing.
Ok, great start.
Now ask yourself WHAT, more specifically, is stressful about packing?
- Are you worried you won’t get it all done, so you don’t attempt at all?
- If so, make a plan to reward yourself with a break each time you reach a goal, such as completing five or ten boxes.
- Time yourself with how long it takes to complete a few boxes to give you a gauge as to when you’ll truly be finishing up. It may be quicker than you thought, which will ease some stress.
- Do you fear that your items will become damaged?
- If so, empower yourself with some expert packing tips to give you peace of mind about your items.
- Look into insurance for sentimental, priceless items and be sure to keep these important boxes with you.
3. Redirect Your Focus with a Timeout
Sometimes we are able to catch stress building before it gets to the point of no return. However, sometimes it hits us like a ton of bricks. If this happens, and you can’t focus on making a moving checklist or on journaling your stress, take a temporary timeout. Go out and instead of focusing on moving your house, focus on moving your body. Go for a walk in a park, get on your bike, or do anything that can ground you in the present moment.
If exercise doesn’t seem do-able, focus on your breath. Breathing exercises can center you and help quiet the mind enough to lower overall stress. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a few deep, slow breaths and counting to ten when things seem like they are beyond control.
4. Label Boxes Thoughtfully
One thing that is a common stressor during a move is feeling like all your belongings are indefinitely displaced. If you are packing up your house or even if you are in the process of unpacking, not knowing where a specific item is can trigger anxious feelings.
To prevent this, make sure you label all your boxes when you pack. Don’t just throw random items in boxes. Instead, make a plan and pack like with like, room by room. Take a moment to label not only the room the items should go in, but sum up the contents within the boxes as well. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Kitchen- Mugs, Cups, Silverware
- Kitchen- Pots, Pans, Cutting Boards
- Kitchen- Coffee Maker, Blender, Toaster
5. Pack a Self-Care Kit
Make sure you pack an essential box for moving day. Include items you don’t want to run to the store for like contact solution or OTC allergy medication. You’ll also want to think about necessities like your coffee pot, so you can tackle day 1 of unpacking with your morning cup of Joe.
Take this one step further and create a self-care moving kit as well. Inside, include those items that can calm you down and ultimately relax you. A self-care moving kit will be as individual as the person, so be sure you think about what things bring you a sense of calm. Consider these items for inspiration:
- A scented candle or home fragrance
- Your favorite magazine, book or journal
- Sweet rewards like your favorite hard candy
- A few pictures of the kids or the dog to bring a smile to your face
6. Say Goodbye to Your Old Place
One reason moving can be so stressful is that it can be a very emotionally charged experience. Our homes are sentimental and hold so many memories. Maybe we didn’t want to leave, or perhaps we wanted to, but the thought still makes us sad. Don’t avoid these heavy emotions entirely. Honor the process by feeling that sense of sadness and loss. Say goodbye to your current place and symbolically thank it for providing you a home for however long.
Take a Proactive Approach to Moving Anxiety
Moving anxiety is very common. However, if you feel like you have lost your sense of control during the move, make sure you reach out for support from family or a trusted physician. Likewise, if you are feeling a general sense of unease, know that you’re not alone. Hopefully, these tips have helped get you on the right track.
A special thanks to Rachel Surdi for this guest post.