We’ve found your next perfect home and fulfilled your wish list. As exciting as this is, you now know there is a move in your future. And as we all know, moving is a significant task!
I want to maximize the thrill of your new home and not allow the chore of moving to impact your enjoyment. Therefore, I am reprinting the text of an article that was published in the CREBNow newspaper on April 20th, 2017. A registered clinical psychologist gives some useful tips for de-stressing the move.
Enjoy the article and the serenity it can provide!
Seeking and selecting your new home is undoubtedly an emotionally-charged process. However, as mentally consuming as this activity may be, it is hopefully accompanied by feelings of optimism, excitement and even relief once you have made the decision to finalize your purchase. But then, as you are celebrating your acquisition and anticipating life in your new abode, it dawns on you that you still have to move… everything. You have to pack and discard and arrange and re-arrange your belongings and abandon your familiar community and establish yourself in an unfamiliar community… and the list goes on. This realization can be profoundly daunting.
In an effort to help reduce the stress of this event before it eclipses the joy of occupying your new home, CREB® interviewed Cheryl Placsko (www.feelingstrong.ca), a registered clinical psychologist who has been counselling adults, children and families in private practice since 2009. Cheryl specializes in helping people deal with their stressors and develop coping strategies that encourage feelings of strength and capability. Cheryl offers her insight into the three stages of the move process:
Waiting for the moving trucks
Surprisingly, and perhaps contrary to common belief, Cheryl suggests that moving does not even rank among the top stressors on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. This knowledge alone can assist us in realistically framing our perceptions of the task. Cheryl explains that stress and anxiety are caused by fear of dangerous situations. However, while moving is likely to produce some discomfort, it is generally not a dangerous enterprise. As Cheryl emphasises, discomfort does not equal danger. When we ruminate and obsess about the aspects of our impending move, we create fear out of a non-dangerous event.
“Our perspective is what changes how we function,” Cheryl advises. “When we shift our perspective, we shift everything.” To that end, we should try to focus on the positive results of the move and the aspects of our new home about which we are excited. This will give us the energy to handle the tasks involved in preparing for the move.
We also need to ensure that we continue to enjoy our established routines, rather than putting our lives on hold because we are moving. Family dinners, going to the gym and socializing with friends will continue to sustain us throughout the process. Similarly, it is helpful to engage with neighbors and extend invitations to keep in touch to avoid a loss of continuity. Doing this also affords us the time and permission to say goodbye to our existing community.
Obviously, planning for the move is important. However, there is a difference between planning and stressing. While having a plan is beneficial, Cheryl suggest that you also recognize that there will be unexpected issues and occurrences that are unavoidable and accept this as inevitable. Then, after you have 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
Some very good news from Cheryl: Most people are less stressed on the day of the actual move than before or after. This is due to the fact that we are living in the now and are actively doing the job for which we have mentally prepared. As long as we have allowed ourselves sufficient time for the physical move and are expecting the unexpected, we will 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, Cheryl recommends that you have a clear idea of what represents comfort and security to you and your family. Instead of creating additional stress by trying to unpack and arrange the entire house all at once, you can focus on the immediate needs that you have identified. If your sense of serenity and well-being means a home-cooked meal, you can unpack the kitchen first. If sleeping in your own bed is a priority, you can set up the master suite and rest assured that 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 neighbors. They may not want to intrude during your busy move-in period and you can help establish a feeling of belonging by being the first to open up the 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 neighbors over. If the thought of entertaining makes you anxious, you can have an informal potluck or simply enjoy some takeout or refreshments together.
Now that you are in your new house, you may have a number of improvement ideas that are occurring to you. However, not unlike the pre-move phase, it is okay to formulate a plan for your projects as long as you don’t dwell on the tasks and create more stress for yourself. As Cheryl suggests, you may want to use this time to dream about the possibilities of your house, not fret about trying to achieve everything immediately.
At this point, you can congratulate yourself on having acquired your dream home and successfully taken up residence. Not a bad reason to celebrate!