Moving is one of the most stressful life changes you can experience. It’s up there with the death of a loved one and divorce. It is also often accompanied by other major life stressors, like moving away from family and friends, starting a new job, or helping children acclimate to a new school.
Arguments, financial difficulties, and reduced opportunities for intimacy can further stress people who are in the throes of a move. Here are seven ways to help reduce the stress of your next move:
1. Divide and Conquer
If you are moving with another adult, share the load. Write down everything that needs to be done and split up the list. If one of you hates packing boxes and one hates dealing with movers, utility companies, and legal documents, the division lines are clear.
If they aren’t quite so obvious, a sit-down dinner (perhaps including two or more glasses of wine) may help you divvy things up. Knowing your role in the move and sharing the load can reduce arguments.
2. Keep a Moving Journal
You will have a thousand things to juggle, plus an overflowing brain. Taking a bit of time each day to capture notes will help. Yes, your time is already stretched, and you don’t want to add even one more task. However, composing to-do lists, keeping a calendar, and brain-dumping or ranting on paper will help keep you organized and sane. (Get one for your partner too!)
Select a small notebook size that fits into your pocket or purse to jot down new tasks and details. Writing things down helps your brain focus on solving problems, instead of remembering lists.
You may be tempted to capture these details on your phone or computer, but studies have proventhat writing things down, longhand, is significantly more effective.
3. Cultivate Gratitude
Sure, it sounds hokey, or like New Age advice, but it works. If you commit to identifying at least one thing, every day, that brings a smile to your face or strikes you as beautiful, it’s a win.
You may find it easier to start your practice with “non-gratitude” statements like, “I’m thankful I didn’t kill my spouse today when he/she did this…” That’s okay.
By cultivating a daily habit of gratitude, you’ll eventually LOOK for bright spots. Plus, the act of looking for something good changes your perspective, in a positive way. (Hint: Write your gratitude notes in your moving journal.)
No, don’t join a gym in the middle of a move, but do get outside and walk, go for a swim, dance in your now-empty living room, or play your favorite sport. Find something that gets you out from under the dark cloud of moving and gives your mind and body a break from the stress.
It doesn’t have to be a significant time commitment. Just a 15-minute walk will refresh and revitalize, both physically and mentally.
5. Get Proper Rest
Stress is harder to handle if you are burning the candle at both ends. Your short-term memory is the first casualty. Let’s face it. When you are juggling literally everything you own, you can’t afford to lose any mental assets.
Packing up those last few boxes can wait until after a good night’s sleep. So can arguing with the moving company.
6. Nourish Your Body
During a move, it’s easy to “grab something quick” and keep working. If that means highly processed fast food, your “something quick” is going to slow your body down.
Even if you are usually a fast-food, take-out junkie, now is a time for better choices. Use meals as a way to reconnect with your family and friends. Turn off the “I’m moving” part of your brain and talk about anything else at the table.
Enjoy your food and the people sharing it. You’ll have more energy after a good meal.
7. Remember Moving IS Temporary
When you are in the middle of a move, it feels like it will never end. The daily challenges and things that don’t go as planned are all part of the process. This too shall pass. Seriously.
Realize that in a few months, your move will be a distant memory. In a few years, you may even be able to laugh about the chaos.
In the meantime, take care of yourself, be kind to those around you, and realize you will be in a brand new home soon—and that’s pretty exciting!