Stress of Moving: Ways to Effectively Handle It
Here’s a fun fact: Moving is considered one of the most stressful life events. Soak that in for five…
Before you dismiss that claim, it comes off the back of several surveys conducted – not once, but – multiple times over the years by different entities querying respondents on what they consider to be the most stressful events in their life.
And here we were thinking inflation and a looming recession post an unprecedented global health pandemic would get the citizenry concerned!
Turns out, though, even life-altering events like having kids or switching careers have nothing on moving house which – according to a good percentage of people – outperforms even (yup!) divorce.
The thing about moving is that it doesn’t impart grief like you would experience, say, after breaking up with a romantic partner. If anything, the prospect of changing cities or neighborhoods, or upgrading to a better address, can be nothing short of exciting.
Yet, the thought of relocating is one that many people find crippling. Moving is a bag of mixed fruit. While there are things to look forward to – particularly if the reasons behind the relocation are positive – there is still reason to remain apprehensive.
The uncertainty attached to swapping the familiar for the unknown definitely has something to do with it which – for the anxious types – can be absolutely nerve-wracking.
But there is more to the stress of moving than that.
In this post, we explore the subject of moving stress in detail as we try to answer the question of why moving is stressful. Later, we will also share helpful tips to help you cope with the stress of moving.
Why Can Moving Stress Occur?
The thing about moving stress is that it is not triggered by any solitary cause but rather, a bunch of factors that combine to make it an excruciating undertaking.
Moving Involves Big Changes
It is not lost on anyone that moving by its very nature is an extremely disruptive undertaking. It basically involves leaving your life as you know it and embracing the unknown. Unless you have a crystal ball or can read tea leaves, there is no surety as to how the future is going to pan out. With this fear of the unknown associated with relocation, it’s not hard to see why many people may be anxious about moving.
As humans, change is not something we welcome naturally, unless we absolutely have to. This is why there are literally millions of articles on the web and videos on YouTube dedicated to the topic. As it is, moving house is as disruptive to our lives as change can be, so it’s kind of a big deal.
You have to change your location, your house as you knew it, your job perhaps, friends, and basically most aspects of your life; routines included.
In other words, moving is so stressful as it forces us to not only take the plunge into the deep end but also adapt while we are at it.
Moving Can Be Expensive
The stress of moving can also be attributed to finances.
Moving is not cheap, with the costs involved going up the more belongings you need to move and the distance you have to cover. Hiring a moving company is one of the best ways to reduce the stress of moving, but hiring movers from NYC to LA (or anywhere else for that matter) doesn’t come for cheap.
A DIY move may cut costs, but the more you have to do by yourself, the more moving stress you have to contend with. Not only that but there is a litany of other costs associated with relocating that you have to deal with.
Without a proper budget in place, the stress from moving can easily build up, more so if you find yourself in a situation where you are forced by circumstances to move house. In fact, just like finances are the biggest cause of divorces, money also happens to be the biggest cause of moving stress for many people.
Moving Can Take a Lot of Time
Moving is not an event, but a process that begins by gathering moving supplies (after drafting your moving checklist, of course) and culminates in getting settled at your new place. If you are moving long-distance, the more involved the planning and preparation can be.
It is a demanding period, from start to finish, and it’s fair to say most of us never really enjoy any peace of mind until we’re done with the relocation process completely. Needless to say, it can be an agonizing couple of weeks, so it’s not hard to understand how the stress of moving can creep in during this transitional period.
That’s particularly so if you have to plan for other aspects that tend to complicate moving. For instance, if you have children (irrespective of age), there are many things to think about which are different for babies, toddlers, and school-going children; never mind teens. Own pets? Or plan to move your garden? All these things only serve to make relocating a nightmare.
Stressed About Moving: What Are the Symptoms of Moving Stress?
Stress from moving is not often talked about, but many people out there are dealing with stress when moving every day. It is not an ideal situation to find yourself in.
The stresses of moving could manifest in multiple ways. It is important to know what to watch out for to prevent moving stress from taking its toll on you.
Most people associate stress with mental effects, but it is more than that. If you are too stressed about moving, it can manifest through a cocktail of physical symptoms that are a dead giveaway that you are dealing with stress.
- body aches;
- chest pain;
- low energy levels;
- shaking (in some instances).
When you’re in this state, you are also more susceptible to illness or infection.
As humans, emotions are one of the hardest things to hide – especially to ourselves. You may succeed in smothering them for a while, but sooner or later they will come bubbling to the surface.
You’ll know you are suffering from the emotional stress of moving through signs like:
- high irritability;
- difficulty in relaxing (you literally have little to no peace of mind);
- a feeling of being overwhelmed by circumstances;
- wanting to shut out the outside world;
- feelings of worthlessness. The emotional stress of moving could also spiral into depression.
The stress of moving (or stress in general) can also wreak havoc on your reasoning, affecting your rationale or ability to see things clearly.
This could lead to:
- making impaired judgment resulting in poor decisions (the phrase heat of the moment comes to mind);
- endless worries;
- poor memory and disorganization;
- inability to see the glass as half-full;
- overwhelming thoughts that could make it difficult to focus on anything in earnest.
If you’re stressed about moving, you may also exhibit some behavioral symptoms that could be tell-tale signs that you are suffering from moving stress:
- a change in your eating habits, resulting in either too little or too much eating;
- an urge to shirk duties and responsibilities;
- turning to alcohol or drugs to numb out or wash away your sorrows.
How to Handle the Stress of Moving?
The process of moving house can take a toll on any of us, and that’s normal. It behooves us then to find healthy ways to handle the stress from moving because the last thing we want in the midst of relocation is anything dragging us down or getting in the way, whether you are moving by yourself or hiring movers.
That’s not to be misconstrued to mean that you should move full steam ahead. In fact, it pays to take it easy during this period, as much as the situation may suggest otherwise.
If you are anxious about moving or feel the stresses of moving are too much, we have some tips to help you navigate the process unscathed.
- Take stock of the situation – before anything else, it is important to acknowledge the gravity of the task you’re about to embark on. Moving is stressful and pinpointing the issues that make it so is a good starting point to turning the situation around. Earlier, we did cite the top reasons that contribute to moving stress – time, money, and the disruptive effect of relocation, the uncertainty included. By understanding these elements, you are better able to perceive the relocation process for what it really is and plan accordingly.
- Be the early bird – one thing we often advise people to do to minimize or avoid the stress of moving is to plan and prepare for the relocation early. That means drafting and setting aside a budget, gathering all the necessary supplies you’ll need well in advance, booking a mover months ahead if you plan to use a moving company, decluttering, packing, and so on. Aim to get your business started at least 8 weeks before moving day and you might just be surprised at the impact this simple move can have on your move, notably reducing moving stress.
- Get a moving cost estimate – as with any other large project, working in the dark as far as the costs involved go brings a lot of uncertainty. Moving is no different, and that’s something you want to avoid if you don’t want the stresses of moving to build up. If you’re using a professional moving company like us, request a free moving estimate to help with your budgeting so that you know exactly what you’re staring at. That can make a world of difference.
- Team up with the best – we probably have alluded to the point that the best way to avoid the stress from moving is to hire a professional moving company. A full-service move, in particular, allows you to put your feet up while the mover does everything for you, the packing included. However, it’s worth noting that all movers are not equal and in fact, the industry is not short of dodgy characters. Hiring a top-rated moving company with a reputation for delivering quality service can be a godsend.
- Draft a moving checklist – a moving checklist is the foundation of every successful relocation. Take time to prepare a comprehensive list of to-do’s that factors in everything you need to do in between fetching packing supplies and settling in your new place on the other end. Here’s a downloadable moving checklist to get you started.
- Monitor expenses – another way you can reduce the stress of moving is to keep your moving expenses in check, seeing as finances are one of the top contributors of moving stress. Set a moving budget you’re comfortable working with and find ways to have everything work around your projected figure. It is a liberating feeling when you don’t have to stretch yourself financially when relocating and are able to execute the move on a practical budget.
- Do a proper purge – the thing about having too much clutter to deal with is that it makes it hard to get started on anything. It overwhelms you and can make you anxious about moving, raising your cortisol levels. Therefore, when drafting your moving checklist, identify anything you deem surplus in your house and embark on a ruthless purge. Not only will you have less items to worry about, but this also trims your moving expenses dramatically.
- Get packing out of the way – packing is the most demanding aspect of moving. It eats up a lot of time and we recommend starting it weeks ahead of moving day. Leaving it too late will make you nervous about moving. Knowing you have done most of your packing as the big day edges closer is a good feeling. So, once your packing materials are in, go room-by-room and get whatever you can afford to pack early into the boxes – seasonal clothing, for example, the basement or storage area, artwork, etc.
- Keep your valuables close – you will have better peace of mind knowing valuables such as important documents, bank cards, jewelry, keys, and more are properly accounted for and safe. These are items you should keep with you even if you’re hiring a moving company. In the case of larger valuables like a piano, antique furniture, grandfather clock, and such, always entrust them with movers who offer the respective specialized moving service. Plan for moving insurance while you are at it.
- Feel free to tap external assistance – this especially applies to packing. Unless you’re opting for a full-service move, having extra hands on deck will always work to your advantage. So, if you need to make headway with the packing or require assistance to haul heavier stuff around, consider reaching out to friends or family members where applicable. Extra assistance can also come in handy on a moving day.
- Set aside some me-time – we know, this is probably not the time to be thinking about self-care and all, but it never hurts to schedule some downtime for yourself amidst the chaos of the moving process. Whether it’s watching a movie, reading a book, or whichever activity you prefer to unwind, slotting in some downtime for yourself can significantly reduce the stress of moving or keep it at bay for good.
- Consider some closure – the thought of leaving behind your friends or family members when relocating can be saddening. Since we cannot reverse our decision to move in most cases, the best we can do is try to make the best of the situation. For instance, you can sneak in some time in your busy program to spend with people close to you. Or organize a farewell party. The same goes for your children because they too are affected by the move. This can help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress of moving you all may be feeling.
- Eat healthy and get enough shut-eye – when relocating, it’s easy to feel the need to stretch yourself in terms of what you need to get done, especially if life’s regular responsibilities leave you with little time to spare. However, it is important to take care of yourself during this period because fatigue only adds to the stress of moving. Eat healthy and make sure to catch enough sleep. Look, it’s absolutely possible to make time for yourself in the middle of a move if you start your preparations early.
- Have fun – sure, moving may be one of the most stressful life events, but heck, it’s not like you’ve lost someone! You are allowed to mourn about the good things (and people) you will be leaving behind, but life has to go on. There is no point in tormenting yourself. Instead, use simple de-stressing techniques like listening to soothing music, meditating, or whatever else works for you to keep moving stress levels in check.
- Look for a silver lining – as an extension of the previous point, focusing on the positives associated with your move can make the process easier to digest. While uncertainty is one of the reasons moving is stressful, you cannot allow it to rain on your parade. Instead of fretting about things that are not within your control, you can instead choose to dwell on the benefits that will come with the move.
How to Make the Move Less Stressful for Your Child
Children (and we’re speaking about toddlers above three) are affected by moving as much as you are; in some cases, even more, especially if they are leaving behind all their friends and everything else that mattered to them.
That in mind, one of the things you can do to make the move less stressful for your children is to “sell the project” to them. That should start by breaking the news to them, and we would advise to let them in on the info well in advance as opposed to waiting until the last week or two.
The news might not be received positively at first, but try to paint a positive image of the new place, including nice children’s amenities in the area and activities they can look forward to.
Children are also likely to be more invested in the process if you involve them in tasks such as packing. If they are big enough, allow them to pack some of their personal belongings such as toys (under your supervision of course!)
It’s important to also let the kids say their goodbyes to their best friends. If you can, consider throwing them a farewell party. This can win you points and negate some of the negative emotions that could be directed at you.
The whole idea when you want to make relocation less stressful for kids is to let them “own the process”. There might be resistance at first, but it will gradually fade away, especially if you can paint a positive picture of some of the exciting things they will have fun doing in the new location.
Moving to a new house or location signifies endings and beginnings. That alone is enough to stir a barrage of mixed emotions. When you throw in the disruption and uncertainty – and the money and time investment that accompanies it – it’s easy to see why stress from moving is so common.
However, the tips we’ve shared here can go some way towards alleviating the stress of moving, should you find yourself struggling with the thought.