A home is more than a physical space that you sleep and live in. It’s a space that nurtures you and your family and carries memories and little pieces of yourself. Of all the stressful things in life, moving to a new home is one of the more stressful. The average American moves more than ten times in their lifetime, and that means there are millions of households that move each year.Moving not only means detaching yourself from the familiar – your home, your neighborhood and neighbors, the grocery stores, and local amenities you’ve become accustomed to – but it also means entering a new situation that is pregnant with possibility. A shift from the comfortable and known toward something unknown can bring a lot of stress all its own.
Additionally, moving is stressful because of the logistics and labor involved. Packing up your whole life is no easy feat – figuring out what to take and what to leave behind, considering how you’ll get to your destination and what budget is available for the move – these and many other decisions that must be made while trying to continue normal life is a monumental feat. If you have younger children, you must also help them to manage their stress and understand what’s going on.
Given that moving is so stressful, it’s a wonder that as Americans we move so often! However, in many cases, people move for fresh opportunities to better their lives, and it’s rarely a frivolous move for its own sake. With millions of families on the move every year, here are a few ways you can deal with the stress of moving into a new house.
How to Handle the Stress of Moving to a New Home
It’s an adventure
While moving can be stressful because of the unknowns associated with it, you must adjust your perspective to focus not on what you’re leaving behind, but on the adventure ahead of you. Yes, you made good memories in the home you’re leaving behind, but you’ll be able to make a whole new slate of rich memories in your next home.While you’re leaving your neighbors and some friends behind, the place you’re moving to will allow you to meet new neighbors and make friends with other people; where you are moving to will be a new situation to see God at work. Looking at your move as an adventure shifts your mindset and that goes some way to putting you in a healthy frame of mind.
You can start building up anticipation for your new life by doing simple things like a virtual tour of your new neighborhood to see the places you’ll be building new memories.
It’ll all be over soon
Knowing that an uncomfortable situation will end can give you an extra shot of strength to hold on and push through. All the packing, the discomfort of settling in and figuring things out, will all be over soon. If you’ve moved a bunch of times before, you can look back at the process and see that no matter how hard things get, it’ll happen, and you’ll find your new normal.
Let people come around you
Packing up your life can be stressful if you’re going it alone. Of course, having people around you when you’re feeling stressed can add stress too! But it’s always been true that many hands make light work, and having your friends and family around to help you pack, to be a shoulder for you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, to make or bring dinner when you’ve packed your kitchen up, or people that can take the kids for a bit to give you room to pack without distractions, and sometimes to help you move into the new place – all of this can help to relieve the stress of moving considerably. Community is a good thing; we don’t have to shoulder our loads (both figurative and literal!) by ourselves.
Some people perform better when they are under pressure but packing up a whole household last minute can bring about stress in an order of magnitude that will more likely hinder rather than enhance performance. Moving to a new house entails a lot of (dare I say it) moving parts that need to be well coordinated. A lot of stress around moving stems from the sheer number of things that need to be done in a short window of time.
The fear of forgetting or breaking things while packing is an additional stress point. Give yourself the time you need to do what you need to do without the pressure of having to move out by a certain date. If you can help it, start the process of moving sooner rather than later. No one likes to live among boxes, but better to have one corner of the house occupied by boxes than to be in a frantic race at the end to get everything together.
Take a breath
While everything is going on, make sure to give yourself regular breaks, because relaxation helps. Stopping to breathe, stretch out and stay connected gives you perspective amid all the swirling chaos, not to mention giving your mind and body a bit of time to recover.
As you work on your move, don’t throw your routine out if you can help it, because it can be an oasis in the middle of all the change going on. With young children in the picture, a routine can provide space for normalcy and relaxation. So, keep moving, doing whatever exercise brings you joy, because the “feel-good” neurochemicals released by working out help to elevate your mood, and exercise helps to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol in your system.
It also matters whether you sleep well, because good sleep also does wonders for our minds, bodies, and emotions, helping us to process information creatively, be better able to read emotional cues, and recover from physical strain. Maintain good sleep routines by going to bed on schedule, waking up at set times, and turning off electronic devices about an hour before bed.
In addition to sleeping well, continuing to eat as well as you can is also helpful. Stress eating is a reality, but it leaves many negative consequences in its wake. Instead, choose to eat a balanced diet to ensure that your body gets what it needs. Stress affects your body’s immune response, so eating certain foods like citrus may give you an immunity boost to stave off illness. All this makes for a happier, less stressful transition to your new home.
Moving brings moments of frustration, not only with the situation but potentially with the people in your life. Some people are meticulous with their packing, having clear labels and demarcated places where things should go. Others are a bit more disorganized in their approach, and if these two are in the same space, it can cause friction and stress for both.Clear communication is always important, and this is never truer than in stressful situations such as moving. Not only is speaking kindly and gently to one another important to the process but taking the time to practice gratitude will be a blessing for all involved.
Take time, whether in your breaks or as you pack, to be thankful – whether through journaling, song, or recalling anecdotes – for the memories made in your home, for the people in your life, for the home you’re moving to, for the gift of life itself and whatever else you can think to offer thanks and praise to God for.
Practicing gratitude gives you much-needed perspective and an outlook that helps to weather storms. The stress of moving, just as stress in other areas of life, can be mitigated by having an outlook that lets you take things in stride, and practicing gratitude helps to do that.
“Tired From the Move”, Courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Moving Supplies”, Courtesy of Rachel Spaulding, Freeimages.com, CC0 License; “Paletized Boxes”, Courtesy of Markus Spiske, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Woman in Moving Box”, Courtesy of Anastasia Shuraeva, Pexels.com, CC0 License