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New Year, New Lease: How to Deal With Moving Stress

By: Zana Van Der Smissen

Whether you are moving out of a rental, buying your first home, or moving into college dorms, moving stress is very real. It can be exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and can overall end up being a negative experience for most. However, I am here to say that you can find ways to cope with that stress and even find this new chapter exciting! So first let’s talk about what moving stress might look like. It is different for every individual but here are a few examples of symptoms that moving stress might cause: sleeping issues, difficulty regulating emotions, fixating on the negative, anxious or racing thoughts, and feelings of being overwhelmed. This is only a starting point and can be entangled with physical symptoms of stress as well. That being said, there should be an emphasis on having coping mechanisms to be proactive with the stress of moving beforehand as well as self-soothing techniques for when stress does come up. So let’s get started with what proactive things you can do to deal with moving stress! 

Firstly, let’s talk about the practical steps you could do to make sure stress during the move is at a minimum. Try to start early with creating a list of to-do’s and organize it into baby steps. Breaking down one goal into smaller goals can lower the pressure you put on yourself to accomplish certain tasks and allow you to feel empowered to move forward when completing that task. By also dividing them into smaller steps, you can tackle another practical part of the move that is difficult for most and that is the financial burden it can have. Moving is not cheap and so to make sure that you don’t become financially overwhelmed by the costs, start with the necessities, and budget and break it down across multiple months. This will allow you to still meet goals but also have enough money to cover the everyday expenses that you still have in the months leading up to the move. Additionally, meeting with a financial advisor could help you relieve some anxiety around budgeting and develop realistic financial goals. When we are feeling overwhelmed with emotions, our judgment can become clouded so talking to a third party, whether that’s a professional or a loved one, can be really helpful to eliminate unrealistic expectations. 

While you are dealing with these things upfront, you can be confronted with information that can bring up stress or anxiety, both before and during the move. So how do we cope with that? Here are a few things that we can do at the moment:

  • 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique
  • Boxed breathing
  • Progressing Muscle Relaxation
  • Leaves on a stream guided meditation

5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is something that you can do on the go wherever you are and can help relieve some symptoms of anxiety and stress in a short time period. It is called 5-4-3-2-1 because it asks you to use your senses to be aware of your surroundings instead of what might be going on in your mind. So to use this technique, try to find 5 things you can see in your vicinity, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. 

Boxed breathing is also something you can do wherever you might be and helps specifically with regulating breathwork. It asks you to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and hold it for 4 seconds. And then repeat that process until you feel like the feelings of panic, stress, or anxiety have subsided. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is something that you can start to put into your routine in the weeks or months leading up to the move. It specifically is a guided meditation that you do to relax your muscles that can help with stress relief, anxiety symptoms and tension built up in your body. 

Similar to PMR, leaves on a stream is a guided meditation. However, this mindfulness exercise allows you to take those overwhelming and racing thoughts and try to release them. The meditation can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes so it can easily be implemented into your routine before or during your move!

All of these techniques can be starting points to exploring how to self-soothe or how to cope with those stress symptoms. As you move forward with your move, remember that you can always ask for help from loved ones or go talk to someone! Talking to a counselor can help with your own thought processes, help reduce anxiety symptoms and allow you to reflect on how to improve coping mechanisms as a whole in navigating stress in your life. With whatever you choose to do to help with your stress, good luck with your move & hopefully it’s a less stressful one! 

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