10 Ways to De-Stress Your Move

Moving is one of the most stressful transitions in our lives and it is not easy to decide what to do with the lifetime of memories that have accumulated over the years.  At this time, you may be in the middle of deciding which items are to move with you and which ones are to be sold, donated or trashed.  Here’s how you can manage moving stress:

  1. When de-cluttering, begin with a small space like a closet or a bathroom.This helps you get organized faster and with less emotional attachment than a bedroom or living room.  Work up to the larger areas and you will find that you are more decisive and productive.  Use what I call the “refrigerator method”: tidy your closet as you would a fridge.   Remove everything from the shelves of the closet and only put back what you absolutely can’t live without.  Throw away things that have surpassed their ‘best before date’ like old, worn towels or hotel shampoos that you have collected and never used.  You will be surprised how easy it is to decide what you can live without!
  2. Be patient with yourself or the older adults you are helping. Sorting through years of stuff is difficult and sometimes emotionally painful.  Allow enough time so that you don’t feel rushed and don’t try to do it all at once.  Give yourself 1-2 hours a day to focus on deciding what moves with you and what gets donated or thrown in the garbage. When you find that you want to keep everything, stop!  You are getting tired and should move on to something else.
  3. When de-cluttering a room, start on one side of the room and work methodically around it. Don’t let the size of the room be daunting.  Have 3 boxes set aside for:   1) items to be keptor 2) items to be gifted/donated to charity and 3) garbage.  If items are too large to fit in a box (i.e. lamps, side table) put sticky notes on the wall to designate an area of the room where you will separate your items.
  4. Designate tasks and ask for help wherever possible.  Get family and friends involved in the move, whether they are helping you to sort, pack or physically lift the garbage bags to the curb. If you have a dog, maybe the neighbor can walk the dog for you each day? Ask a friend you trust to help you decide what will fit into your new home.  This friend should be honest with you when you may want to keep things that should be recycled (“do you really need to keep Aunt Mary’s old tablecloth when you will no longer be hosting Thanksgiving dinner?”)
  5. Hire outside help.  Whether you are planning your move by yourself or have your children to help you, there may be times when aspects of the move will become too stressful for the family. Sometimes it’s easier to work with an outside party who is not involved emotionally with your move, but can provide direction and experience in a gentle and professional manner.  Senior Move Managers are trained to help with the planning, organizing, de-cluttering, packing and unpacking related to your move, and they can also recommend the best companies to use, i.e. home cleaners, movers, and methods of junk removal. A reputable Senior Move Manager will belong to NASMM (National Association for Senior Move Managers) and you can ask your realtor for help in choosing one for you.
  6. Attend to emotional needs. Even if the reasons for your move are positive ones, feelings of sadness and anxiety can arise. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust as this will help to relieve your tension and refresh you for the days ahead.  Remember to take time to say goodbye to your neighbourhood and your neighbours.  This can help the emotional transition process just as you are preparing for the physical move.
  7. Remember that your children may not want to take your furniture.  While this may be a harsh reality, you have raised your children to think for themselves and to develop their own sense of style.  Don’t be offended if they don’t want your 8-piece dinette with matching buffet that you paid $10,000 for 20 years ago.  Another common reality is that your furniture is not worth what you think it should be and, unless it is a true antique, will fetch very little money if you want to sell it.  There are other options that you can consider, like donating it and receiving a taxable receipt for the resale value or giving it away to help neighbors/friends.  There are many organizations who survive off the generosity of people like you.  Also, you will feel good knowing that your treasures are helping someone in need.
  8. Be aware that moving comes with a cost. Nothing compounds stress more than when an unforeseen financial cost arises.  Be ready with your list of things you will have to pay for: movers, home cleaners, maintenance services if your home is vacant for a time i.e. snow removal / lawn mowing services, junk removal or rental of a bin or Rhino bag.  Again, a Senior Move Manager can advise you on the most reputable companies to hire and services to help your transition go smoothly. Note:if your home is going to be vacant you should contact your insurance broker/agent as this can impact your coverage.
  9. On moving day, enlist help from family and friends to help you supervise the move.  You have hired reputable movers; all the boxes have been packed and labelled and you are ready to move in.  Have a box set aside with your immediate needs: notebook with your to-do list and phone numbers, medications, and extra cash to tip the movers or to order pizza for your helpers.  You will want one person at the house and one at the new location to direct the movers.  If you are moving your adult parents, this may be a good day to have them taken out for lunch by a friend or, if they are moving to a retirement residence, maybe they can use the swimming pool or other amenities provided by the residence they are moving into.  If they want to be involved in the move, arrange for them to help unpack and set up their new home.
  10. Keep up your routine wherever possible. During the stressful days of moving it is easy to get sidetracked with other ‘urgent’ things.  People often lose sleep and forget to eat properly.  Continue to take care of yourself and maintain your routines, especially when it comes to exercising regularly or keeping social dates like bridge club, lunch with your daughter or minding your grandchildren.