Moving is listed as one of the top stressors that a person can experience in a lifetime—right along with divorce, loss of a job, or loss of a loved one. Any of us that have moved before (or even announced that we are moving) have probably heard this.
But, exactly, why is moving so stressful? Well, yes, there’s the scheduling, the packing, the expenses, the general disruption. But there’s also something more profound going on.
While moving is stressful, it can also be an exciting adventure. So how do we minimize stress and maximize the good? Generally speaking, there are just three things to focus on:
1. The power of a positive mindset
2. Doing your practical preparation
3. Taking the time to cultivate a new home
When we live somewhere, four walls become transformed from just blueprints to a real place where you live. We become attached to these places because they aren’t just places, they’re the canvases our very memories are painted on. They become a part of us. And disruption of this attachment can cause stress—pretty straightforward, right?
But these attachments can be profound, playing a key role, even, in our understandings of home, rest, and, yes, even our own selves. Tack this disruption onto the other factors (like we mentioned) that always seem to accompany a move—time pressure, weighty decisions, the stress of looking for a new place, and potential financial disturbances, and we start to fill in our picture. You’re juggling a lot of moving parts here (no pun intended).
So, we build bonds with the places we live and being displaced is necessarily a jarring experience for us. But, while moving can be a cause for stress, grief or loss, there are also many wonderful things that can come with moving: stimulation, excitement, joy, and the feeling of new opportunity and adventure. So how can we maximize our chances of those good emotions and minimize stress? Generally speaking, there are three things to focus on that will help make your move memorably happy instead of notably hard.
Establishing a positive mindset will help significantly in lowering your stress during the move and enhancing your satisfaction in your new place of residence. Easier said than done, right? Here are some tips on how to boost your positivity when approaching your upcoming transition:
As you reflect on the area you are leaving, ask yourself why this particular place stands out to you. Ask also why other places you lived felt like home. In doing so, you will identify aspects of your life that are most important to you and can intentionally pursue these areas in your new home.
During the moving process, you will not only need your friends and family for practical help (i.e. moving that grandfather clock out of your upstairs sitting room), but also for emotional support. Talk to your family members if you are concerned about how your move will affect them, whether they are coming with you or staying in your old town.
If you’re having a hard time feeling positive about the move because you’ll be leaving friends or family, schedule your next visit with them before you move. Share your struggles of grief with someone you trust and ask them for support during your transition.
Schedule in a little time for you to give your house, yard, or favorite spots downtown a good walk through or visit. Consider settling down with a friend or family member and reminiscing about the memories you’ve made in your home. Feeling the sadness of a chapter closing is okay and normal, but try not to stop there altogether.
Talk about previous homes, noting how you made good memories, built friendships or grew in the various stages and places of your life. Also, write down some things that you would love to keep doing, dream of doing, or hope to change in your new home.
Whenever possible try to reorient yourself to think of your move as a new chapter opening rather than an old one closing. Look forward to the things that will bless you in your new home. For example, you may be moving into a job you’re looking forward to, closer to family, into your first house, or to an exciting new city.
You may have the opportunity to learn about a different culture or attend a graduate school you’ve been pursuing. Remind yourself of these opportunities and remember that the home you’re leaving is not lost. Your past experiences and memories have contributed to who you are today.
During your move, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of consequential decisions to make and laborious tasks to complete. And moving day can be where the stress peaks during your moving season. So don’t forget to have some good, energizing food at the ready on moving day, and look over the following tips to reduce any extra stress.
Moving brings with it a number of extra expenses including closing costs, overlapping rent payments, storage rental, moving equipment, hiring professional movers, packing materials, cleaning supplies, etc. These expenses, though, don’t have to add stress to your move if you are aware of them ahead of time.
Think through your moving day and calculate how much to set aside for moving expenses. If you realize that your move will be more expensive than you can swing, you’ll have enough time to cut costs, for example, asking your friends to help move the easier stuff, making food for move day instead of buying out or finding a more cost-effective way to store your extra things.
While you’re in planning mode, make your moving-day timeline. This can be a simple schedule or a detailed to-do list with time frames, expected weather and the schedules of people helping you. Either way, creating a timeline will help you remember the details of the day.
For example, you may want to schedule a time for you to clean your house after its empty. You may also have friends helping you move and want to thank them with an early dinner. Or you may need to be out of your old apartment by a certain time. Writing this all out will help you have less stressful decisions to make in the moment on move-day and will eliminate a lot of stress during your move.
Some items are going to be just too hard to move on your own. While friends may be willing, consider hiring movers to help you with the hard stuff. You may also have so much stuff it wouldn’t be very kind to put that load on you, your family, and some friends. In this case, hiring movers will make the job go much quicker and take a lot of pressure off you and the people helping you.
During the process of your move, though it may be hard to fit in, you’ll have to work out some of the logistics of your move and the resulting paperwork. If you start at this a month before your move, you should be stress-free here.
For your reference, some of these extra details include transferring you kids to a new school, retrieving medical records, changing your mailing address, transferring utilities, updating your driver’s license, and ending your lease agreement.
Though you are moving away from an old home, there are plenty of ways to create in your mind that “feels-like-home” bond with your new home. Building this bond can help significantly in dealing with the stress during your move and the potential sadness after your move.
Home is where you feel oriented, secure, in control, and a part of the environment around you. To feel at home in a new place do the following three things:
Research reveals that people experience a reduction in stress when they recreate well-known settings. So look over the things you did regularly in your old routines and work them into your new schedule.
For example, if you used to work out in the mornings, watch a particular TV show on Tuesday nights, and went out to eat with a friend or spouse on Friday nights, keep doing those things! You may have to rearrange the schedule a bit, but establishing a routine you enjoy will give you the feeling of security and familiarity that begins that person-to-place bond.
Building familiarity with a place is one of the best ways to strengthen attachment. To further develop your familiarity with your new home introduce yourself to your new neighbors and explore the area.
Research shows that frequent use and prolonged occupation, for example sitting under a specific tree or on a particular park bench, promote an attachment or sense of “ownership”. So go out on the town, hike some local trails, or take your dog to the park. Find a few favorite spots and go there often.
What do you love to do? Do you find yourself most happy when working with your hands? Building, making, or designing? Do you love finding inspirational reads and attending book clubs? Do you have a current hobby you enjoy? Pursuing these areas you love will help you grow attached to your new home.
For example, studies show that people who love the outdoors gain attachment to their new home when involved in walking and biking in a local park. Incorporating the hobbies and activities you love into your life will help you make positive memories around and build a meaningful bond with your new home.
So, if you’re stressed about your upcoming move, remember: You have the strength and ability to make a difference in your mood by adjusting your mindset. You can build a barrier to stress through preparation and planning. You can have the hope of building a bond and finding familiarity and joy in your new home. And if you need help during any stage in your move, give Bellhops a call. We’d love to offer our assistance and literally take a load off.
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