How to Deal with the Stress of Moving

In a famous ranking of the most psychologically stressful events in a person’s life, “moving” ranked number seven on the list—beaten only by items like “divorce” or “death of a loved one.” Moving alone ranked seventh, but three of the top five stressful events often involved moving as well.

These stressful events often include moving as part of the experience:

  • Divorce
  • Getting married
  • Starting a new job

Psychologists and productivity experts agree that procrastination has nothing to do with laziness and much more to do with stress. Moving sits at the intersection of three major stress inducers: money, time, and change. Having too little of the first two things and too much of the third can lead to serious overwhelm, which in turn leads to procrastination.

Regardless of how much you might love your soon-to-be home, you are likely to experience anxiety and stress because of the countless tasks on your moving list. When you start to feel anxious and procrastinate on your moving-related tasks, you can take a few steps to cope.

Below, we offer a few tips on managing stress in healthy ways before, during, and after moving day!

#1: Start Small & Start Early

Moving always involves way more labor and time than we expect at first. That’s why the best way to manage your stress is to start small and start early. Begin with filling up a box with framed pictures or decorations. Do one box at a time, starting two or three weeks before you think you need to.

Even if it’s barely progress, doing the minimum amount of work does a few things for us:

  • It maintains momentum. Even if our momentum slows down for a day, it’s far easier to pick it up again the next day. If our momentum stops altogether, starting is even harder (if you’ve ever skipped a day at the gym, you know what we mean).
  • Starting small makes it more likely that we’ll keep making progress. Often, when you make a deal with yourself to pack only one box, you’ll end up doing a lot more.

The reason we procrastinate is that we’re overwhelmed by all the work there is to do. When we take it slow and focus on doing just the next box, the next room, or the next task, it’s easier to start. If you’re tempted to skip out on packing by watching TV or scrolling through Instagram, here’s what we recommend: set a timer for five minutes and do anything moving related. Maybe pack a single box—just one. Or maybe label a few boxes. That way, you’ll keep your momentum up.

#2: Prioritize Your Physical Health

Stress is a biological response, so the best antidote is to take care of your body. Prioritizing your physical health will help your mental health as well, and it’s fairly easy to accomplish this—even if you’re busy with countless moving-related tasks.

Make sure you are doing the following during the moving process:

  • Get enough sleep. The best way to take care of your body is to get a full eight hours of sleep. Deep and abundant sleep lowers your cortisol level, which is the stress hormone. Try to go to bed early enough and avoid watching TV just before bed, as this can interrupt your body’s ability to sleep deeply.
  • Eat well. Eating healthy foods will also allow you to tackle moving tasks with less stress. We recommend eating nourishing food that will support your digestion and increase your energy. You can also reward your healthy eating habits by treating yourself to occasional comfort food. You’ll need the energy food provides to face the physical and mental stress of moving, so don’t starve yourself!
  • Exercise. Finally, exercise will allow for the release of endorphins, which give us feelings of well-being and happiness. It can even help improve your sleep, which lowers your stress levels even further. Don’t think that you need to run six miles a day or spend over an hour at the gym five times a week to see these benefits. Even a short walk with your dog or just a few minutes of jumping jacks, burpees, or jogging in place can make a significant difference.

#3: Make a Complete List of the Entire Moving Project

Some of our stress ultimately comes from holding too much stuff in our heads, especially when it comes to things we have to do. Productivity expert David Allen says that the human brain is great for creating ideas but not holding them. Making checklists of the tasks on your plate—both big and small—is a great way to clear your head and reduce your stress levels.

When we get stressed about moving, we’re not stressed about all the things we know we have to do. We get stressed about all the unknowns—all the hidden tasks and to-dos that we don’t even know about yet. One of the best ways to manage moving stress is to write down those “hidden tasks” and put them on a list.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Break your entire move into mini-projects (by room, by stage, by whatever you like)
  • Brainstorm all the things you’ll need to do before you’d call a room or stage “done”
  • Turn your brainstorm items into concrete tasks
  • Take a moment to jot down any new tasks you think of, so nothing is missed

Don’t be afraid to go granular. You might have an entire mini-project devoted to your dog, which might include tasks like “Pack up the dog toys in the living room and put them into a bag.” The more detailed you are, the less likely it is that you’ll miss something important.

After doing this for an hour, you should have a pretty thorough list of every single moving-related task on your plate. While it might seem counterintuitive, organizational experts say that this exercise helps reduce stress because it puts our “finish line” into focus. We’re also less likely to be caught off guard by a task we forgot to write down.

#4: Ask for Help!

Stress is compounded by isolation, but it’s mitigated by cooperation. In other words, having people help you with a move relieves the burden of stress you might be feeling. During a move, there are maybe a few things that only you can do: the move-in inspection, the transferring of utilities, calling your internet provider, etc. Everything else can be handled by pretty much anyone with two arms and a strong back! Call some friends over to help you pack or have them take the food in your fridge to clear it out. Maybe get a friend who is more organized than you to help you get started.

If you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed about planning your move, packing, loading, and unpacking, then we can help. Our licensed professional movers know how to get your local, long-distance, out-of-state, or international move done without a hitch. We’ve handled thousands of big and small moves, giving our customers the chance to relax and enjoy their new home on moving day. With logistical experts and friendly movers, we can handle every aspect of your move that’s causing you stress.

#5: After Your Move: Integrate Familiar Habits with New Surroundings

Once you make the move to your new location, introducing familiar habits can help you feel comforted in stressful times. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s vital to relax regularly before letting anxiety and tension build up. Grab a familiar book, spend quality time with a loved one, or put on your favorite TV show. Cooking a family recipe or preparing your favorite drink is also a great way to integrate your old memories with new ones.

If you’re dealing with moving stress, the easiest solution is to call Affordable Quality Moving and Storage today! Dial (661) 622-2636 for a free in-home estimate.

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