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Moving Anxiety: Six Ways to Stay Sane When You Move

May 17th, 2020


“The say that moving is one of the most stressful things in life.” -Kevin Nealon

A man looking puzzled and stressed sitting among moving boxes

Why Do People Move?

Change is inevitable. The seasons change. Our relationships change. Our careers change. And many times, our home life can change when we decide to move. This for most people can be the hardest type of change to deal with. For many people, our homes and our home lives define us. When we are familiar and comfortable in our own personal settings, we feel secure. We know where the silverware is, how to navigate our way to our favorite local grocery store, and feel that hometown pride when our sports teams win the biggest game of the season. When this changes, the rest of our lives can feel like they are out of order. It is important to remember who we are during a big change, like a move, in order to maintain order and peace for all other aspects of our lives.

People may decide to move for a variety of reasons:

  • Job or career change
  • To live closer to family
  • To live farther from family
  • To change a given lifestyle
    • Moving from a big city to smaller town
    • Moving to a big city from a smaller town

Moving’s Impact on Our Mental Health

Moving can create many complex emotions, in both expected and unexpected ways. Whether you are experiencing a local move, a cross-state move, or moving to another country, we all can experience similar thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Common emotions that moving can bring out in ourselves include:

  • Fear
    • Of the unknown
    • If the move will be the right decision
  • Anxiety
    • Stress about planning the move
    • Worry about the move itself
    • Concern about settling into a new sense of normalcy
  • Depression
    • Can be caused by a sense of overwhelming anxiety
    • Sadness about leaving the life we know behind us
      • Social circle
      • Familiar go-to spots (restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gym)
      • Our jobs (colleagues, workplace)
      • Our daily routine
      • Our familiar routes of getting to and from places
A woman with her eyes closed looking very stressed leaning on a moving box

Reasons Why Moving is So Stressful

Moving forces us to step outside of our comfort zone into a life of the unknown. For this sole reason, moving can create uncertainty. It is important to be able to identify why moving is stressful in order to help aid the anxieties of it.

  • Finances
    • Moving is expensive, every little thing adds up
    • Can shake up our financial stability temporarily
  • Planning out the logistics of moving
    • Communication with landlord, realtor, the bank, insurance, attorney
    • Organizing the move itself
      • Movers, storage facilities, moving supplies
    • Dealing with utility companies at both your old and new residences
  • Time involved
    • Maintaining our lives, such as our jobs and keeping up with kids takes priority; which means that everything related to planning and coordinating a move needs to take place during any spare time that was once used for leisure
    • Thus, balancing work, kids, and the move itself can create a sense of feeling overwhelmed
  • Children
    • If you have children, it can be confusing and challenging to explain to them what is going on and why

6 Ways to Ease Moving Anxiety

Finding ways to maintain both order and balance in our lives amongst the chaos of planning and facilitating a move can be challenging. Here are 6 ways to help manage any anxieties you may be experiencing.

  1. Lists
    1. Creating different lists that correspond to different aspects of your move can help to visually see what needs to be done
    2. Completing an item on the list can feel very rewarding and create a sense of accomplishment when you cross is off
  2. Prioritize
    1. When we are overwhelmed it is important to prioritize what is most important to get done
    2. Setting an order to all of the items can create both direction and organization
  3. Meditation
    1. Choosing a time everyday to breathe, rest, and focus on you is essential to maintaining your inner peace
    2. Try meditating at the start of your day in order to create a sense of intention and mindfulness for the rest of your day
  4. Maintain your daily routine as much as possible
    1. Once the packing begins, life can get a little more interesting when you have to live out of boxes for a temporary period of time
    2. Outside of your home, try to maintain as much of your lifestyle that you know
      1. Maintaining your professional life
      2. Keep up with any activities you have regularly scheduled for your children
      3. Maintain your “you” time (exercise, eating right, meditation)
  5. Ask for help
    1. Reaching out for help is not something to shy away from, it can help you feel more organized and give you an extra set of hands
    2. This can be especially helpful if you have children
  6. Do nice things for yourself
    1. Reward yourself for all of your hard work
    2. Having something to look forward to can be very motivating
      1. Relax with your favorite show at the end of the day
      2. Take a bath
      3. Treat yourself to your favorite meal
A family with moving boxes painted with smiley faces on their heads

It Will All Be Worth It

Whether you are moving for a job or to be closer to family, remember that there was a reason for this move and all of the anxiety will be worth it in the end. Remind yourself that the act of planning, coordinating, packing, facilitating, and finally unpacking for a move is only temporary. Finding healthy and productive ways to balance your life during such a stressful period is essential for both your mental and physical health.


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