Illustration by Rachel Niebergal / For CREB®Now

Dealing with the move

Tips for reducing the stress of the big event

Finding a new home can be an emotionally-charged process. But as mentally consuming as it can be, it’s often accompanied by feelings of optimism, excitement and even relief – especially when you’ve finalized your purchase.

Then reality sets in. You’ve got to move… everything.

You have to pack, discard, arrange and re-arrange belongings, abandon a familiar setting and establish yourself in a new community. It can be profoundly stressful and daunting.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce the stress of moving before it eclipses the joy of occupying your new home.

Cheryl Placsko (www.feelingstrong.ca), a registered clinical psychologist who’s been counselling adults, children and families in private practice since 2009, specializes in helping people develop coping strategies that encourage feelings of strength and capability.

Placsko says that stress and anxiety are caused by fear of dangerous situations. While moving is likely to produce some discomfort, it’s generally not a dangerous enterprise. When one ruminates about the aspects of an impending move, it creates fear out of a non-dangerous event.

Our perspective is what changes how we function. When we shift our perspective, we shift everything.

“Our perspective is what changes how we function,” said Placsko. “When we shift our perspective, we shift everything.”

To that end, you should try to focus on the positive results of the move and the aspects of your new home that excite you. This mindset helps provide the energy to handle the tasks in front of you.

Placsko says it’s important to continue to follow established routines, rather than putting your entire life on hold because you’re moving. Family dinners, going to the gym and socializing with friends will continue to sustain you throughout the process. Similarly, it is helpful to engage with neighbours and extend invitations to keep in touch so as to avoid a loss of continuity.

PLANNING THE MOVE

Obviously, planning for the move is important. However, there’s a difference between planning and stressing. While having a plan is beneficial, Placsko suggests you accept that unexpected issues are unavoidable. Once you’ve established your plan, don’t dwell on it. Focusing too much on the move can create stress and depression because your mind can’t reconcile all the thoughts about what has to be done, with actually doing it.

THE DAY THE TRUCKS ARRIVE

Placsko says moving day can be easier to deal with emotionally than planning. Most people are less stressed on the day of the actual move than before or after. This is because you’re living in the now and are doing the job for which you’ve prepared. As long as you allow yourself sufficient time for the physical move and expect the unexpected, you’ll be well equipped to problem solve in the moment.

AFTER THE TRUCKS HAVE LEFT

It can be overwhelming to be left standing amongst heaps of boxes in a strange house and wondering how to regain your sense of belonging and order.

To reduce your anxiety and stress at this juncture, Placsko recommends you have a clear idea of what represents comfort and security to you and your family. Instead of creating additional stress by trying to arrange the entire house all at once, focus on immediate needs. If your sense of serenity and well-being means a home-cooked meal, unpack the kitchen first. If sleeping in your own bed is a priority, set up the master suite and rest assured everything else will fall into place.

This is true for children as well. They often view their bedrooms as their “home within a home,” so they may make an easier adjustment if their bedrooms are unpacked prior to the other rooms.

To help alleviate any sense of isolation in your new community, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to your new neighbours. You can help establish a feeling of belonging by being the first to open up lines of communication.

If you have children, enrolling them in a neighborhood organization or team sport can help everyone feel more at home. Additionally, you can foster familiarity in your new home by inviting existing friends and former neighbours over.

Placsko suggests taking time to just dream about the possibilities of your house, not fret about trying to achieve everything immediately.

Arguably, the final step is to congratulate yourself on having acquired your dream home and successfully taken up residence – it’s a perfect reason to celebrate.

 

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