Moving is a State of Mind: How to Mentally Prepare and Make Moving Stress-Free

Stress-free moving. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? Believe it or not, it is possible to complete a local or long-distance move without driving your mental health into the ground. From getting support to staying organized, here are our best tips for staying stress-free during your next big move.


How to Make Moving Less Stressful


1. Plan ahead.


Not sure how to prepare for a big move? Try using a moving checklist to help spread the work over several weeks instead of panicking at the last minute. If you know you’ll procrastinate (and who could blame you? Moving is a stressful life event!), ask for help and accountability. Invite friends to help pack up nonessential items well in advance, and be sure to line up support for moving heavy objects at least a week or two before moving day. Sure, things can still go awry even if you have a solid plan, but getting most of your ducks in a row ahead of time will help reduce stress when surprises do pop up.


Choose the best time to move based on your most significant life priorities. For example, if you have a big project at work, give yourself at least a week or two after it before moving day. If you’re flying across the country for your nephew’s birthday party, don’t try to move the day you get back. When possible, rearrange or postpone other responsibilities for a few days surrounding your move to ensure you have enough mental space to stay mentally present. 


2. Pack smarter, not harder. 


When you create your moving plan, allow yourself enough time to pack in an organized fashion rather than throwing things haphazardly into boxes. Labeling boxes may seem obvious, but it will genuinely save you headaches. Use a marker, color coding system, or spreadsheet to track where boxes go in your new home and what they contain. Always pack by room to reduce misplaced items; in other words, don’t pack your pajamas with your pots and pans.


Use specialized packing materials or containers to save time. For example, pack up your closet in wardrobe boxes rather than folding them and then having to rehang them later. Many moving services sell these and other specialty boxes. Even if you don’t hire them to help you move, you can often find them for free in local Facebook groups.


Do you have items that will go in an attic or storage unit until later? Go ahead and put them in plastic totes or weathertight bins so they can go straight to their storage spot—there’s no sense in packing them in cardboard just to repack them later!


3. Pack your “must haves” in a suitcase or overnight bag.


On an average day, it might seem like a stretch to have a mental breakdown over being unable to find your toothbrush. But truthfully, moving can increase your stress to the point that anything can send you into a tailspin. To keep yourself functioning in the thick of moving, pack a suitcase as if you’re going on a three or four-day trip, and include everything you need to keep up your daily routines. Clothes and hygiene items are essential, of course, but pack a few things to help you decompress, too, like a book or a favorite photo of your family to put beside your bed—even if you’re sleeping on an air mattress in the interim.


4. Ask for help.


Moving is a huge task. All your worldly possessions, big and small, must be packed up, shipped to a new place, and then unpacked again (let’s not even talk about trying to get it all organized). Whether you hire a moving company or ask friends and family to chip in, you don’t have to do this alone! Friends can keep you company as you pack and help you get more done without completely exhausting yourself.


Stress-Free Moving: Mental Health Matters


Whether you’re in the midst of a long-distance move or trying to keep things organized for your local move, moving can feel all-encompassing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, so be kind to yourself and tend to your mental health throughout the entire process. Here are a few ways to do just that:


Take care of your body. 


In times of stress, it’s easy to neglect our physical health, which then affects our mental health and starts a vicious cycle of more stress. Make sleep a priority, and be sure you’re eating nutritious meals. Don’t forget to pack snacks in an easily accessible place for your moving day. It can also be helpful to take time to move your body, whether with a short walk or a yoga class.


Make time for hobbies.


What’s the antidote to stress? Fun! It’s perfectly acceptable—and dare we say it, necessary— to set aside time for hobbies, socializing, and anything else you enjoy when you’re preparing for a big move. Let your brain focus on something you love for an hour or two, and see if you feel less stressed about your big move afterward.


Take breaks.


Moving is a marathon, not a sprint. If you work yourself to the bone at the beginning of the process, you’ll likely run out of steam and be too exhausted to stay mentally grounded by moving day. Take breaks during a long day of packing or calling around to moving services. Stepping away from the chaos can do great things for your headspace!


Again, ask for help.


Friends and family can help you with the logistics of your move and offer a listening ear. But if you are constantly overwhelmed, contact a mental health professional to discuss things. Moving is stressful, and you deserve all the support you need.


Starting Fresh: A Better Way to Move

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