How Moving Affects Your Mental Health
Moving Can Impact Your Mental Health More Than You Imagine!
Do you think only your body takes a beating when you move? Not so, say experts. Your mental health can take a beating, too—which is why you need our tips to help you survive this experience.
You look around at the place you so lovingly decorated, nurtured, cared for and took pride in – but all you see are packing boxes, enough packing tape to move a city and the chaos that is the hallmark of an active move in progress.
Whether your decision to move was made for the happiest reasons – a new job, bigger home or the downsizing you’ve been looking forward to for so many years – there’s a nagging pain that pervades your body and mind. Perhaps you’re even having problems sleeping.
You’re not alone. Every move comes with a plethora of emotional responses and whether you’re single or a member of a family so large, you wonder if you will ever get everything moved out, your emotions can take a beating as a direct result of this big life change.
Perhaps if you understood a little more about why you are feeling this way you could get through your move with less trauma and help your family members do so, too. Moving may be scary and complicated. But you can get through the process nimbly and arrive at your new home eager to face the next exciting chapter in your life.
It’s all about change
Although she grew up to be a successful journalist, Colette Carlson still remembers how she felt when, at age 15, her mom passed the mashed potatoes at the dinner table and announced that the family had purchased a new house and would be moving.
To this day, Carlson recalls her response to news of the impending move: “I think it’s a horrible, terrible, unbearable idea. I love this house, my friends, my school, and the thought of moving again just three years after the last time makes me want to burst into tears!”
Luckily, the Carlson family move went perfectly, she and her family survived and thrived, and she successfully uses her moving experiences as fodder for great pieces of journalism, many of which revolve around the subject.
Carlson’s message is both reassuring and hopeful: Give it any spin you like, moving is the quintessential life change and while humans aren’t necessarily wired to greet change with grace, understanding or a sense of humor, it has become a fact of life and a task you can survive in better shape than you imagine!
Which of these 3 categories best describes your moving behavior?
People tend to react to moving in one of three ways:
1) They refuse to confront reality and live in denial.
2) They react so erratically, they go off the rails for the entirety of their move.
3) Some find creative ways to go with the flow and if you can get yourself into this frame of mind, you’ll be among the lucky ones, too.
These fortunate people recognize the loss of control they feel with every box they pack and set about accepting change. Would you like to follow the lead of these movers? You can by taking the following 4 steps and helping your family do the same.
- Accept the fact that change is an inevitability and deserves to be acknowledged.
- Welcome all of your emotions. Cry. Throw things. Find a therapist! If you don’t let go of the fear, uncertainty and insecurity moving provokes, you could melt down and take everyone with you.
- Accentuate the positive. We see you smirking and rolling your eyes. But you can do it. Admit that there are plenty of things to celebrate about the new life you will begin, so why not acknowledge it?
- Take time to say goodbye to the past, seeing your move as a stepping stone to a bright, new future.
If the Aussies can do it, so can you
The website Welldoing.org may be located in Australia, but when it comes to emotions that impact movers, there is no ocean separating Aussies from your current state of moving distress.
This online therapy resource helps families, couples and individuals deal with the nuances of moving every day, addressing some of the most frequent reasons for moving that are far from positive. Divorce. Illness. Perhaps a death in the family has prompted your move and your mental health has hit rock bottom.
Acknowledge the fact that moving is a traumatic event, but there are ways you can combat dark moods, depression and feelings of hopelessness that can strike during a move. The following tips, offered by Welldoing.com therapists, can get you out of your funk. Try one. Try them all. They really work.
6 survival tips for down in the dumps movers
- Get Organized
- Don’t Suffer in Silence
- Keep a TV/DVD Players Plugged In
- Don’t Swallow Your Extreme Feelings
- Make a List of Awesome Things
1. Get organized
Your emotions may be upside down, but your house doesn’t have to be if you allocate a staging area that serves as the hub of your moving efforts so remaining rooms remain comforting and familiar. No fair cleaning this area up after each packing session; it’s meant to be an oasis of action and home to all of your supplies so you control the process and can walk away when you need a break.
See also: Home Staging Tips
2. Don’t suffer in silence
It’s likely that every person you’ve ever met at one time or another has moved and lived to tell about it. Enlist your support network. They don’t have to touch a piece of bubble wrap to help. They can come over with cookies and watch you pack. Show up with dinner. Insist on packing your kitchen! They say you don’t know who your friends are until you’re in trouble. This is your opportunity to affirm this saying.
3. Keep a TV/DVD players plugged in
Keep a TV/DVD players plugged in for the duration of your packing experience. When you feel you are about to break down, give up or freak out, tune in to the Comedy Channel or watch a DVD that’s silly, uplifting or funny. Watch two if the day has been particularly awful. If you packed all of your discs, no worries. Your library’s DVD collection contains lots of films for checkout in the humor section. Just make sure you don’t pack films you check out!
4. Don’t swallow your extreme feelings.
It’s no secret that plenty of people in today’s world bury their fears and insecurities in food, booze, drugs or a variety of addictions. If you’re attempted to throw your hands up and put a straw into a bottle of wine, it’s time to take a walk around the neighborhood, hit the gym or head for a friend’s house so you can whine and complain until you run out of whines.
5. Make a list of awesome things
Make a list of awesome things you will do after you move that you haven’t been able to do up until now. Perhaps you’ll be on a bus line so you no longer have to commute in traffic for hours, there’s a movie theater in the neighborhood or you can walk to a grocery store. Will the time you save once you move mean you can take a class at the local college or can you finally ride the bike that’s been collecting cobwebs? Hang that list on the ‘fridge. Make it the last thing you pack before pulling out of the trenches.
We see you rolling your eyes once again, and while packing may require you use some muscles, you don’t get a healthy workout because some of your body parts aren’t engaged. Stretch. Squat. Lie down on the floor with your bum propped against the wall and thrust your legs toward the ceiling. You’ll shift the blood flow in your body. This simple pose can clear your head and improve your circulation.
Follow just a few of these tips and before you know it, you’ll be advising friends and family members on the pros and cons of moving, too. It’s okay to feel like an expert; that happens when surviving a daunting move without accidentally packing the cat!