HOW TO GET LESS STRESS FROM MOVING
“Moving unto better things!”
This isn’t normal, is it?
The other morning I started my day by crying at the kitchen counter while eating breakfast. That doesn’t happen very often but that day it did and despite my effort to hold it back, I couldn’t. I was having my first cup of coffee and a bowl of muesli and I felt 100% depleted of energy and absolutely exhausted. I couldn’t combine two words to formulate a sentence if my life depended on it and my only response to the present situation was to cry. I knew why I felt like that and I knew I had to find out how I could get less stress from moving, because that what was I was doing.
“Freeze, don’t move”
We were in the middle of a move and it was a lot harder than I had expected. Somehow I should have known how hard it would be as I have been moving more than a nomade on steroids lately. Within the last ten years, I have moved as many as nine times in total and two of those moves were even from one country to another and one of these was even transatlantic. I’ve been living in Canada a bit more than five years now and this house is my sixth residence.
However, despite some decent planning and preparation, this move somehow managed to suck me dry and leave me beside myself.
How can that be, I asked myself again and again. It’s just about packing everything in boxes, move all of it somewhere else and unpack, right?
Moving = Stress
Basically, yes that’s true but moving is so much more than a physical challenge. The mental burden from moving is bigger than most tasks one can take on in life and it is actually a lot more stressful and deteriorating on your health than one might think at first.
Research has shown that moving can be as stressful as a divorce, death of relatives and friends, and being diagnosed with a serious condition e.g. cancer. Wow. Dangerous stuff.
On Lumen Learning’s website, they write that “Extensive research has demonstrated that accumulating a high number of life change units within a brief period of time (one or two years) is related to a wide range of physical illnesses (even accidents and athletic injuries) and mental health problems.”
No wonder I feel tired, exhausted, frustrated, depleted, and everything else at once when I look at my own moving history. Staying clear of serious illness plus not breaking down mentally as well as physically seems to be quite an achievement.
So even though one fully intend to prepare for the big move, the stress and anxiety that comes with finding a new home, deciding what to keep, sell, give away or toss, and putting the remaining stuff in boxes, plus organizing the actual move are enough to make even the most organized person dizzy.
How to ease the pain
Moving from one place to another will always be a big task but there are ways to ease the pain. The following are my ten best tips and despite my near-breakdown encounter at my present move, I believe that applying most of these tips, if not all, will make your move a lot less stressful.
1. Accept that stress is a normal part of the moving process
Moving is stressful, so the sooner you accept that as a fact, the better it is, as that will prevent you from being taken by surprise when it hits you. Stress is a natural human response to a difficult situation, but it isn’t the end of the world. Take it for what it is and acknowledge the feeling when it happens, but don’t let it deter you from the tasks at hand. Stay focused.
2. Give yourself enough time
One of the biggest sources of moving stress is not having enough time. A stress-free move might be too much to hope for, but you can make it a whole lot easier by making sure that you don’t have to deal with everything within a weekend.
Moving isn’t a rush job so accept that you’ll need about two days to pack up a studio or one-bedroom apartment, three to four days for a two-bedroom home, five to six days for a three-bedroom home, and so on. And that is just the packing.
On top of that, you will need time to research and select a moving company or rental truck, change your address, set up utilities in your new home, and clean the home that you’re leaving. The more you leave to the last minute, the more frantic you’ll inevitably feel.
If possible, I can highly recommend having a full week of house overlap, so you have plenty of time to clean and move everything without putting in 20-hour workdays. I will cost you a bit of extra money for paying double rent, but it may keep your stress level in the green.
3. Forward Your Mail Earlier
This one is easy to get out of the way. Just do it. Go online and order mail forwarding service as soon as you have your new address and a confirmed moving date. One thing less to worry about just like that.
4. Change address
The same can be said about changing the address. As soon as you have a new address and a confirmed moving date, go ahead and start changing your address. As this can be done online for pretty much any service, it is fast and the sooner you get that task off the list, the better. It will declutter not only your note pad but also your mind.
5. Sort your stuff
When you start sorting out your stuff, you may find it useful to divide it into four categories. At least, that is what I did when I prepared for my last move.
The categories are:
- Throw out
Sorting in these categories is easy. You pick up an item and decide whether you want to keep it or not. If you conclude that it has to go, you have three options; sell it, give it away or throw it away.
Throwing away should always be the last option as we don’t need to contribute to filling up the landfills and most of the time, it is possible to find a new home for the item.
6. Start small
If the task at hand seems too big, I recommend you start with the small stuff. Start going through your belonging’s weeks, if not months, before the moving day. It’s like doing a big puzzle with thousands of pieces. If you combine 6-8 pieces into small sections, you will soon be able to connect those sections, and the bigger picture starts to occur. If you begin sorting out whatever you have in the basement, attic, or garage, you will make great progress ahead of time, and you will feel energized from your accomplishments.
7. Stay organized
Staying organized is vital if you want to make moving less stressful. This applies to all stages of your move, from sorting and labelling boxes, so it is easy to distribute and unpack at your new place to keeping all critical information and documents close by so you know where to look for it when needed. If you make organization a priority from the get-go, you’ll set yourself up for fewer headaches and a more relaxed overall move.
8. Hire professional movers
If your moving budget allows it, you might find relief in hiring a moving company to deal with the major tasks. In addition to helping out with the heavy lifting on the actual moving day.; movers can also help pack your things and safely wrap and transport hard to pack items like lamps and art.
However, make sure to hire a moving company with a proven reputation of reliable and trustworthy service; otherwise, you might end up more stressed than necessary. Asking friends for referrals is always a good idea.
9. Get enough sleep
This one may be a no-brainer, but more often than not, too little sleep is the result of a few busy weeks of moving. Make sure you get enough of it though. Being fully rested may be wishful thinking but getting enough to stay on top of the moving game is a must.
10. Don’t succumb to eating crap
When all your kitchen tools are in a box somewhere, and you don’t have time to cook real meals, it is so easy to let go of good eating habits and settle for unhealthy fast food instead. However, you can’t expect to perform well on French fries so when you call for food deliveries, ask for the good stuff. Nowadays there’s plenty of healthy options with real food that will fuel your body for the job ahead.
A final word
It is my hope that you found this article helpful. No matter how you put it, packing up your home and move it somewhere else is a big task and it can be a very stressful situation to deal with. However, with proper and timely planning, the stress level can be reduced and before you know it, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you will feel much better from it all.