(Trying to) Manage Stress During a Move

“Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.” ~ Brené Brown

Our family is about to embark on a big move later this month. Although not our biggest move, we moved from Prince Edward Island to Alberta 9 years ago, we are now moving as far west as you can go in Canada to Vancouver Island. Nine years really isn’t that long ago, yet until just recently, I had somehow managed to block out the hard parts of our previous moves. I must say, the memory of the inevitable stress is quickly coming back to me…

Nostalgia sets in

Just when a move is “getting real”, nostalgia seems to creep in. I think psychiatrist Neel Burton coins nostalgia very well in his Psychology Today article, The Meaning of Nostalgia, by saying it – “is a form of self-deception in that it invariably involves distortion and idealization of the past, not least because the bad or boring bits fade from memory more quickly than the peak experiences. The Romans had a tag for the phenomenon that psychologists have come to call ‘rosy retrospection’: memoria praeteritorum bonorum, ‘the past is always well remembered’. If overindulged, nostalgia can give rise to a utopia that never existed and can never exist, but that is pursued at all costs, sapping all life and joy and potential from the present.”

It sounds like a negative mental game we play with ourselves, but as long as we keep propelling forward, remembering the good bits isn’t so bad. With another impending move for our family, I am acutely aware of the power of nostalgia but also recognize it for what it is.

And stress sets in…and piles up

Stress and moving are a powerful combination so learning to manage it is key. I have realized that stress management can vary from day to day and week to week, but a few effective personal tips include the following:

1. Plan ahead as much as possible – we did our cross country move 9 years ago in less than two months from the day of initial contact about my husband Colin’s new job until the day we landed in our new city. At the time, we had two young children, ages 6 and 9, and 3 pets. This time we have been planning for a couple of years, from finding a new home to scoping out opportunities and making arrangements. Starting to pack early was also super helpful. My husband started packing decorations, keepsakes and pictures early – the tough stuff to pack that needs to be tucked away for house showings anyways.

2. Do what works best for you – we have super delayed trying to sell our house because of our kid’s exams, son’s graduation and maneuvering 4 pets for any house showings, etc. Not ideal, as we may be trying to sell an empty house, but overall much less stressful. I don’t think many of us live our lives day to day keeping our homes show-worthy all the time.

3. Maintain your self-care routine – I think moving, as with any other major life transition, can result in us not taking care of ourselves when it is in fact most crucial. This may be the most important time to continue making meals at home (until your kitchen is packed!), being physically active, relaxing, meditating, sleeping and whatever else keeps you generally feeling well.

4. Be prepared to welcome various emotions – one thing I didn’t anticipate this time is how emotional selling and leaving a “home” would be. It isn’t just a house to our family – it represents so much more. It has housed many moments of our lives over the past 9 years. Although 9 years isn’t a long time for a lot of people, for us, it encompassed some of the most important years in the identity formation of our kids. I am excited about the adventure ahead and also sad about the wonderful people, city and home that will leave behind – it’s all good though.

In closing out this week’s post, I want to share a few lines from The Atlantic article, The Psychology of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much, which capture my feelings about ‘home’ – “And whether or not we are always aware of it, a home is a home because it blurs the line between the self and the surroundings, and challenges the line we try to draw between who we are and where we are.”

SaraTMD

Resources

11 Tips to Cope With the Stress of Moving – Huffington Post

Ten Simple Steps to Manage the Stress of Moving – Psychology Today

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