Moving is never an easy process. A lot of the challenge, however, isn’t physical—it’s psychological. Shifting boxes from Point A to Point B isn’t that complicated. What is complicated is managing your own emotions during the moving process. All too often, stress and worry—and even acute depression—can interfere with your move and make the entire process far more difficult and time-consuming than it has to be. Properly managing stress and anxiety during the moving process is critical. Below we offer a few tips on how to stay on an even emotional keel during what is, undeniably, a major life event.
Accept Your Emotions
The most important thing you can do for yourself during a move—emotion-wise—is to do your best to normalize your stress and anxiety. Don’t fight your own agitation. Accept that your mind and body are reacting to a major event and that it’s normal to feel the way you’re feeling. Give yourself permission to feel conflicted and to have mixed emotions about the move and your future. It’s a huge transition. Many people find that specific stress management techniques like journaling and mindfulness are helpful before, during, and after a big move. Experiment freely and find out what works for you.
Create a Moving Plan
One way to help keep your emotions in check during a move is to break down the various tasks involved. Develop a detailed moving checklist and timeline. This is a great way to keep things organized. Set achievable goals, and take one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Like any good CEO, actively delegate responsibilities to those who are helping you move. Whether these helpers are friends, family members or professionals, or some combination, assign different individuals specific areas of responsibility to keep things focused and streamlined.
De-clutter and Organize
In many respects, managing your emotions effectively has a lot to do with how you manage your physical environment. Research shows that your mental state is deeply intertwined with the state of your surroundings, so work energetically to de-clutter the items you’re moving. Sort everything thoroughly and try to impose some order. Take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of what you no longer need, either by selling the items or donating them to charity. Then take the time you need to organize the packing process and streamline your moving preparations. Try to map out how you want the process to go.
Seek Out Help and Support
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Enlist friends and family. Make sure they know that when they have to move, you’ll be there for them. If you feel the need, hire professional movers to either handle the entire job or simply help out. Do everything you need to do to reduce the physical burden of moving, which will in turn reduce your psychological stress. And don’t forget: the Internet is an invaluable resource for stress reduction and management. Join online communities. Seek out advice from others and accept their encouragement.
Practice Self-Care and Mindfulness
Don’t forget to prioritize self-care. You may feel like you don’t have the time, but in the end, it’ll make the whole process of moving smoother and easier. Make time for relaxation, exercise, and hobbies (you’ll feel better!). Practice mindfulness to feel calmer and better equipped to deal with the unexpected. Deep breathing and meditation also have their supporters and have been shown to be helpful.
Maintain Your Routines
One proven method of reducing moving-related anxiety is to stick to your established routines. The human mind loves routines. When we know what’s coming next, we feel calmer, so whenever possible, do what you normally do. Set aside a “chill out” spot in your home for relaxation and reflection when the pressures of the move start to get to you. Also, do everything you can to ensure the comfort and well-being of any kids and/or pets. It’s all too easy to forget to feed the cat when you’re trying to move a baby grand piano!
Strategize Your Packing and Labeling
When packing and labeling your possessions, embrace one of two possible strategies –
‘by room’ or ‘by category.’ Both are equally helpful. Choose one strategy and stick with it. Label each box clearly so there’s no doubt about where it should end up. Finally, be sure to put together an ‘essentials’ box—a box with the things you may need during the move itself. Always keep your essentials box within easy reach.
Manage Your Spending
It’s also extremely helpful to put together a moving budget. When you’re focused entirely on the logistics of the move itself, it’s easy to lose track of your spending. But if you try to anticipate all possible expenditures before moving day, and have a detailed plan about how to handle any unforeseen expenses, it can really ease your mind and reduce financial stress. Many ostensibly successful moves—completed on time and without incident—still end up costing an arm and a leg, for the simple reason that not enough time and energy was put into researching costs and finding ways to save money. Research costs thoroughly and set aside a contingency fund to help with ‘surprise’ expenses.
Communicate with Loved Ones
Another good and useful habit during a move is to keep friends and loved ones informed about what’s happening. Those closest to you are going to worry, especially if they’re on the other side of the country (or the world!). Don’t hesitate to call or text them regularly for emotional support and advice. Also, if you feel the need, organize a pre-move farewell party—or an online version of the same—to give friends and neighbors the chance to say goodbye.
On moving day itself, prepare to roll with the punches, because there are almost certainly going to be some unexpected challenges. Stay cool and take breaks whenever you—or those you’re working with—need one. When something goes well, congratulate everyone around you to pump them up and keep them energized; if something goes wrong, reassure everyone, take the time you need to reset, and get back to work!
Unpack and Settle In!
Once you’ve moved in, give yourself plenty of time to adjust. It’s perfectly normal to feel like a fish out of water for a few days (and sometimes much longer). Be patient. Try to re-establish your routines—or create new ones—and stick to them. Explore your new environment thoroughly and have fun embracing new opportunities and seeing what your new home offers.
So remember: though moving is never easy, you can manage your emotions—and mitigate your stress—by planning ahead. Recognize that a certain amount of stress and anxiety is normal and unavoidable. Acknowledge the way you feel. Actively reach out to others for help and support. Also, take whatever time you need to de-clutter and organize your belongings prior to boxing. Create a moving checklist. And as you’re doing all of this, focus intently on self-care to maintain your energy and enthusiasm.
In addition, try to stick to your routines and have a space set aside where you can decompress if you need to. Pack and label according to a system (you’ll thank yourself later!). Keep anything you’ll likely need during or immediately after the move close by. And create a budget—you’ll save money in the end!
Also: Update friends and family regularly before, during, and after the move. On moving day itself, stay loose. Things are going to go wrong. Accept this and roll with the punches (easier to do if you’ve prepared for contingencies). Finally, give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new home and experience everything it has to offer. It’s a gradual process. Don’t rush it.
In short, moving is much more a psychological than a physical challenge. However, with the right blend of organization, communication, emotional and physical support, pre-planning, and self-care, you can make your move far less stressful. Remember: the goal isn’t to eliminate stress and worry—it’s to effectively manage these unavoidable emotions. The more effectively you manage your state of mind on moving day, the smoother and simpler your move will be.