How to Handle the Emotional Toll of Moving

How to Handle the Emotional Toll of Moving

Moving is great! Moving is a nightmare. Moving is an adventure! Moving is a royal pain in the tuchus. Moving is a new start! Moving is a dead stop to your life. And so it goes.

No matter the reason, moving is never going to be just one thing. It can be an adventure, but one that comes with a lot of stress. It can be a new beginning, but one tinged with trepidation. However, if you have to move, for work, for military duty, or just because your circumstances have improved and it’s time to get out of your parent’s basement, there are ways to manage the stress of moving so that it’s not such a labyrinth of fear and emotional devastation.

Let’s look at some ways you can make the moving process not only bearable but liveable and, dare we say, enjoyable? We dare. But first, some good things to know.

Moving Impacts Mental Health

Moving opens the doors to various complex emotions; some make sense, and others can be baffling. The thing to remember is that when you move, you’re forced to examine your life. The things you’ve kept, the pictures you’ve taken, the clothes you have in your closet, all of these items have emotion attached to them. Some might be less emotional than others; however, you’re still facing and dealing with a flood of concentrated emotions for the length of time it takes you to pack, move and unpack.

This emotional tsunami will open some doors, maybe pull some skeletons from their safekeeping spots, and it can be overwhelming. Try not to panic; this is normal, and practically everyone who moves experiences various emotions.

Fear, Anxiety & Depression

This is the joyful trifecta of emotions that most people pass through during a move. There will be other emotions, too, regret at having kids, wonder at collecting so much junk, and desire to sit on the floor and eat Cheetos and pretend the whole thing isn’t happening. But it is, and you have to get through it.

Let’s look at the ingredients of the trifecta.


  • Of the unknown
  • Of this move being the wrong decision

If you’ve done your research about where you’re moving to, set up the usual electric, heat, water, and cable services, made sure the job is secure, then you’ve got solid ground to stand on. Remember, you’ve got a roof over your head, so the rest will fall in line.


  • Over planning the move
  • Over the actual physical move itself
  • Over never finding a level of normal again

Don’t ignore this, or try to pretend you’re not feeling anxiety. Address it, face it, realize that no matter what, the move will happen, and you will survive and move forward.


Can be brought upon by overwhelming anxiety

Sadness over the loss of what we know, love, and are staples in our lives.



That favorite restaurant

That favorite drive to work

A Perfect daily routine

All of this is exacerbated by the move and seems insurmountable. You have to remember the friends you’re leaving were strangers. The route to work was a nightmare of traffic and one-way streets. You will find new versions, better versions.

The critical thing to understand is that the emotions of the event will give you unrealistic views, nostalgic glasses we’ll call them, with which you’re viewing what you’re leaving. Put these glasses away for the time being and make sure you see things clearly, honestly, and in this moment.

Why is it so Stressful?

You’re just throwing things in boxes, chucking them on a truck, and putting them in a new house; where’s the stress?

If anyone says that to you during a amove, feel free to pop them one on the proboscis. There is a myriad of stressors on a move.

Finances are stressful because a move is an expensive event; it feels like every new roll of tape is going to shatter your finally-tuned financial plans. The logistical facts of a move include talking to landlords or realtors and setting up new accounts for power, water, and heat. Not to mention

schools for the kids and new routes to work, where will you park, and what if there is no grocery store and you have to hunt for your food and do you even own a gun and … stop. Breathe. Stay grounded.

There is time involved, lists to prepare and complete, kids and family to think about, and on and on. The point is, you will feel stress, you will feel anxiety, and even a bit of depression; there is nothing wrong with any of that. Don’t add to the stress by thinking you’re overreacting or being silly. These emotional responses are perfectly normal, and everyone who moves encounters them. Well, except for hand puppets, they don’t care as long as there is a hand around.

What matters is how you react to the emotional flux and how you get through it to start your new and exciting adventure.

Ways to Address the Stress

With all the emotions flying about, it may seem that the move isn’t worth it or that you won’t survive it. Neither is true. Here are some tips on making a move more manageable, less stressful, and enjoyable.

Ask for Help

“I can do this on my own,” were the last words of Custer, Edward John Smith, and Nich Lachey. Thinking you can handle a move on your own is pure madness with a healthy dose of hubris. Don’t do it; get help. In fact, be kind to your helpers and set up a little schedule. Asking someone to help you move may seem difficult, but, believe this, it’s worse for the people you’re asking. But, they love you and want to see you retain your sanity, so they will say yes.

Be kind to them and yourself. Set a limit, ask them for two hours of help on a specific day. Make a schedule, so you’ll know when and who is arriving and what you need them to do. This will make them happy they helped and didn’t spend an unfocused day schlepping stuff. And it will get you the help you need.

Also, use this time to say some goodbyes. And, added benefit here, you’ll want to make a moving list anyway, we’ll address that in a moment, this schedule can be a combo plate of moving list and help schedule. Throw in an egg roll, and it’s a complete meal.

Cull the Crap

One of the biggest causes of stress and depression during a move is the seemingly insurmountable amount of stuff you have to move. Where did it all come from? Are your things

procreating? A life can accumulate a ton of junk, so take this opportunity to cull the pile and take only what you truly need and want into the next phase.

This one isn’t going to be easy as there are emotional ties, perceived or actual, attached to much of our stuff. But trust us, you don’t need the half-chewed pencil that your high school crush once flipped to you as he wandered off to football practice. Be honest, be brutal and get rid of what you just have no idea why you’re hanging on to it kinda stuff.

Once you’ve cleared the clutter, culled the crap, trimmed the tonnage, dumped the detritus …okay, we’ll stop … But once you’ve gotten rid of stuff, you’ll feel much more confident in making the move.


Few things are more gratifying than crossing something off a to-do list. In fact, make a list that starts with make a to-do list and cross it off right away, so you start out feeling successful.

Make lists of what to move, people to call, and things to get done: cable, water, power off in the old place on in the new. Make the schedule of helpers, make a list of folks to say bye to, and give going away gifts. Make lists, and then, at the end of each day, look at the lists and take time to see how much you’ve accomplished. Everything you cross off the list is one less thing you have to worry about.

Take Time to Prepare

There will be a lot to do, and having lists will help, but you also want to give yourself a reasonable amount of time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed in the moving situation and say, I’ll do that tomorrow. Believe it or not, saying that is a good idea, it gives you control over what’s happening rather than what’s happening to have control over you. However, you’ll need to build a few days of “I’ll do that tomorrow” time into the process.

On average, to get everything done turned on, turned off, connected, packed, trucked, and moved takes about eight weeks. Add an extra week to that so you’ll have time for days when you want to have lunch with your friends to say goodbye, or you just cannot face one more moving box today.

Building extra time into your moving schedule will help you breathe easier and make it through with your sanity intact.

Mourn & Celebrate

Humans are a rich and creamy blend of so many emotions, and they are all valid. Don’t try to squelch any or pretend they aren’t there. If you’re sad about leaving friends, neighbors, the best damn slice of pizza on the planet behind, then let that out. Be sad, and don’t feel ashamed about it. This doesn’t mean that you’re not happy to start this new adventure; it just means you’re human, and we don’t just toss off out past experiences like throwing away a tissue.

At the same time, celebrate the move, the new adventure, and the coming possibilities. Don’t be afraid to be excited and happy; you don’t have to play the dower sad clown for your neighbors. What you’re doing should be fun and exciting. So, celebrate and put a little zippity in your do dah while you pack.

Little Rewards

Little rewards give you something to look forward to and make the process a little more enjoyable. Pack a few boxes have a snack. Work a few days straight, go to a movie. Clear out a room, go to dinner. Whatever you need to keep things moving and reward yourself for the work.

The rewards can be simple and quick, and you can administer them minute to minute. But, it’s not wise to say that I will have a reward when this is all done. Keep the rewards regular through the entire process, so you have a little reason to keep going. Rewards can be anything from snacks to field trips, a glass of wine, or even just a nice long walk. Choose what makes you happy and what you’ll look forward to.

Revere Homes Knows

Buying a house, building a house, or just moving to a new place, it’s never a bad idea to get more ideas from those who have experience. Revere Homes knows homes, moving, and all the stuff in between. If you have questions, why not talk to a company with expertise in all home-related levels? Speak to the good folks at Revere Homes; they may have answers to questions you didn’t even think of yet.

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