Mental health & moving house - 7 ways to reduce the stress of moving home
Along with relationship break-ups and the loss of a loved one, moving house is frequently cited as one of life’s most stressful events. Whatever the truth of one’s personal experience, moving can undoubtedly be a time of great anxiety.
“It’s one of life’s most stressful experiences, and it’s because it involves having to cope with change,” said Nicky Lidbetter, chief executive of charity Anxiety UK. “Most of us like familiarity, routine and order. When you’re moving, you have none of those. Plus, it causes a ripple effect of change throughout your life.”
“You’re not just changing your home and getting to know the new one, you might be in a new area, you have to find new schools for your children, take on a new commute to work, find a new GP and dentist. The lack of order, the uncertainty and upheaval that surrounds a move can trigger underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety, OCD and depression.”
However, there are things you can do to make your move easier and help safeguard your mental health until you’ve settled in to your new pad.
Allow plenty of time to prepare for your move, and start the process as early as you can. Before you begin packing, think about sorting out your possessions. This could mean decluttering so you aren’t moving things or putting off a purchase until after the move. This will also give you a better idea of how much you will have to move on the day. You could also carry out research on your new location. For example, registering with your new GP or learning how long it takes to walk to school will help reduce anxiety about things going smoothly once you’ve moved in.
Give yourself time
While the actual business of moving might fit neatly into a weekend, it’s a good idea to give yourself much more time. Before moving day, allow a chunk of time every day for planning and preparing. You may need to use this time for resting as the process can be exhausting. Expect to need time after the move to get back to normal too. If you can, book time off work to unpack and recover from the physical and mental effort. It will give you space to adjust to the changes.
Prepare the essentials
Moving house can cause feelings of insecurity as an old home is dismantled and the new one takes shape. Pack the essentials into one bag so you can find them no matter how chaotic everything else gets. This could include your important documents, any medication, toiletries and underwear. Think about including the things you need to feel well and happy.
A box of comfort
Moving day can be exhausting and emotional. Pack a box of the items the whole family will need to make themselves feel better. This might be favourite toys or blankets for small children, a special mug and pillow for you, or a scented candle and bubble bath. Whatever you think will help you to settle and relax in your new home, even if you haven’t managed to unpack anything else.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t be surprised if you feel more tired and anxious than usual. This is normal and it’s important to look after yourself properly. While you will certainly have a lot to do and be facing a degree of upheaval, take time to sleep and eat well. Try to take a break for a walk or spend time with friends. Some breathing exercises will help if you feel overwhelmed, and can be done in a few minutes.
Recruit as much assistance as you can. You can’t do it all on your own, and friends and family will be happy to lend a hand. Accept all offers of help. Even if someone isn’t able to lug boxes upstairs - if they offer to cook you a meal, accept it with a smile. Equally, if a task – such as packing – feels like it will defeat you, consider spending money on professionals to do it.
Use a checklist
There are so many things to remember, a list can help.
Here’s one to get you started:
Six weeks before the move
- Confirm moving date
- Notify landlord if you’re renting
- Check home insurance
- Get quotes from removal firms
- Book pets into kennels etc
- Start to declutter
- Order new furniture or carpets for new house
- Order boxes and packing cases
- Organise phone redirection
Two weeks before the move
- Start packing
- Tell your GP you’re going
- Notify utility firms
- Arrange for post to be redirected
- Cancel milk/newspapers
- Make a list of people to be told
- Finalise removal plans
- Arrange to collect keys
- Inform bank
- Tell council
- Tell insurance company
- Run down freezer