Moving out of Stress
I have moved seven times in the last five years. It is a roller-coaster of emotions, every time. The anticipation of a new, fresh start. The excitement and relief of finally finding your new abode to-be. And that gut-wrenching, tummy-twisting, hard-to swallow lump in your throat when you look round at all your beloved belongings and realise how much work lays ahead of you. So much to do, to remember. There’s a thousand forms to fill out and endless phone calls to make. You have to pick the right school, maybe find a new job. For some of you, you may be moving to a new country with an entirely different culture than your own that you will have to navigate.
Research has shown many times that moving house is more stressful than divorce, bankruptcy and some argue, even childbirth. With all you have to manage it is without doubt one of the most challenging life experiences you will ever have. However, it can be done and after my many moves I have acquired some useful tips on how to keep a handle on your unavoidably increased stress levels.
I moved into my first apartment with one box of books and a suitcase. By the time I reached my third, it took three cars at least five trips back and forth and a transit van three trips to lug all the admittedly, rubbish I had collected. It’s amazing how much useless stuff we hoard without realising it. We tell ourselves, we’ll use or wear it again someday. Let it go! Think of your move as a chance to clear out all the clutter in your life. Do you really need that box full of those free CDs you never listen to, that we all got from the Sunday newspapers?
People will always offer you help and people will always refuse because they hate to feel like a burden or are under the simple impression that saying no is polite. It’s not! Someone offers to take care of your kids while you pack? Say “Yes please”! Packing is tiring enough without having to juggle the kids at the same time. Your sanity is precious, especially at a time when you need to be on top of your game. Gratefully accept that lasagne your busy-bodied neighbour offers you. Let your burly rugby mate do the heavy lifting (your pride is not worth a slipped disc!). Take the help. Say “Yes, Please!”
A simple idea, I know but, one cannot underestimate the healing power of lists. Yes, of course they help you remember everything you need to do but the feeling of satisfaction you get when you can systematically tick off each item is one of the best ways to relieve stress that I have found. Go through what you need to do section by section and try to focus on the task at hand. This will help when you have a hundred thoughts running through your mind. As soon as you remember something, add it to the list and then stop worrying about it. You can also list things in order of what is urgent, less so and so on.
Bite The Bullet – Do the Paperwork!
While we’re on the subject of lists, it’s a good idea to list your paper work as top priority. Everyone hates doing it and it is so easy to put it on the long-finger but, it will make your move and life in general so much less stressful to get it done as quickly as possible. The best way I have found is to get it done first thing in the morning, before you tackle anything else. This way, the worst part of your day is over and you will feel more at ease and accomplished.
It’s tempting to stay up late packing boxes or googling how to pack boxes or worry some more but being well rested will keep you calmer and far more capable. When we’re tired we get irritable and are more inclined to forget things. On top of that a lack of sleep will weaken your immune system and getting sick is the last you need when moving house! I also highly recommend investing in some brand new bed linen for your new home and be sure that making your bed is first thing you do upon arrival. Even if the rest of the place is in chaos, there is nothing quite as sweet as having a comforting place to rest your aching bones after a hectic moving day.
Organise your boxes according to which rooms they need to go to in your new home. There are always lots of little bits of things that get lost in transit, such as plugs, chargers etc. Tape these things to their corresponding item. This way everything is ready to go and you won’t spend hours searching through mountain of boxes, making even more of a mess. Pack an arrival box with the like of the kettle, tea bags, mugs and your brand new sheets! If you have kids, pack an arrival box for them too with their favourite toys, blankets and movies so that everyone will feel comforted and a little less over-whelmed by the experience.
A Means to an End
Last but by no means least, keep your perspective in check. Remember the excitement from the beginning? Try to hold onto that when you’re up to your eyes in boxes and the flashing “Message Waiting” light on your phone is blinking in the dark. You’re undertaking a huge life change but all the mess and chaos will not last forever. Before you know it you will be looking around your new home from the comfort of your carefully positioned couch and that knot in your stomach will ease and you’ll finally swallow that lump in your throat. The hard part will be over and a whole new world of possibilities will lie before you. You’ll be home.