When asked to rank the most stressful events in their lives, people consistently put “moving” at the top of their lists. In one survey, 6 out of 10 respondents said moving was more stressful than a romantic break-up.
Moving has the potential to cause stress because you’re leaving a place and routine that’s familiar. There’s always an element of uncertainty, and stress is a natural reaction to uncertainty, to challenges, and to demands that seem overwhelming.
The trick is to acknowledge how you feel, then do what you can to preserve your emotional well-being. In that spirit, here are six tips for managing turbulent emotions before, during, and after your move day:
1. Have snacks to help with your mood
The relationship between food and stress is complicated, but one thing is certain – skipping meals because you feel anxious can negatively affect your mood. In one study, scientists at the University of Guelph used rats to examine the impact on emotional behavior. When the rats experienced a drop in blood sugar, they had higher levels of cortisol, a chemical associated with stress. (Read: It seems “hangry” isn’t just a made-up term.)
Not eating can put you in a stressful mood, but if you’re already stressed, you might not feel like eating. To avoid this vicious cycle, make sure you have snacks on hand during moving day. Even if you’re too busy for a sit-down meal, you have time to eat something. Check out this post on the 10 Best Foods to Help Fight Stress, for ideas, including tea, dark chocolate, and nuts.
2. Visualize the end of the move
Visualization is a powerful practice used by athletes, artists, and entrepreneurs to increase confidence, set goals, and buoy their moods. It can also help you stay calm during a stressful move. Take a few minutes when you feel stressed to imagine the relief you’ll feel when the move is over.
Try to see in your mind’s eye what your new home looks like when everything is unpacked and stored in its proper place. Picture yourself sitting down to a meal or celebrating a holiday with your family. Going through this exercise is a reminder that the stress you feel is temporary, that the conditions will change soon enough, and it will dissipate.
3. Hire professional movers
The sense that a task is overwhelming can induce anxiety. Relocating to a new home means you’re already busy trying to get your affairs in order. You don’t need the unnecessary stress that comes with packing your possessions, loading and unloading, or maneuvering a large truck through traffic. Let professional movers do that for you.
4. Tell your movers if you feel stressed
Your movers shouldn’t be a source of stress. If you feel anxious because of something they’re doing (or not doing), it’s okay to say something. The remedy for any uncertainty on your part is to ask questions and communicate openly with your movers. Professionals will answer your questions, be transparent, and help assure you that everything is going to be okay.
The benefit to an open give-and-take is that if something doesn’t go according to plan, the trust and transparency alone will help reduce your stress. You can be confident knowing that if there’s a problem, you can work through it together.
5. Say goodbye to your old home
Stress isn’t the only feeling you might have on move day. Leaving a beloved home after so many years can prompt feelings of grief and loss. To ease the transition, consider engaging in a ritual good-bye.
For example, you might gather your family together and share favorite memories from your old home. You could light a candle and read a farewell poem. Don’t be self-conscious about appearing silly. Since the beginning of society, humans have used rituals to channel and transform powerful emotions. In fact, here’s an article from Psychology Today that explains why rituals are so important and effective for saying goodbye.