By Sarah Godfrey
The emotional impact of moving is in the top 5 most stressful situations we experience across a lifespan, it’s up there with divorce. People develop attachments to their houses and communities that can be as strong as the relationships with their families. Here are some tips on how to survive the move:
Be as psychologically prepared as you are physically. Acknowledge that when you move you may experience anxiety (fear of the unknown) and/or grief at leaving people and places behind.
We resist change because it often feels forced upon us or is unpredictable. View the move as a transition. For some it is a transition towards a dream others it may be a transition away from a nightmare. Either way the move is usually about a decision to seek a better environment, a new start or an adventure.
It’s important to remember that everything you value, (experiences, people and places) are memories that move with you. Equally you can leave those memories that have no value behind in the bricks and mortar that you lived in.
Focus on the reality that you are not leaving friends and neighbours behind, merely extending your friendship group as you meet new people and develop new relationships in the community.
View packing the house as a chance to rid yourself of all the clutter (emotionally and physically) you have collected that doesn’t need to follow you in the future. A chance to spring clean the mind as well as the household contents. Create emotional space for new memories as well as physical space for new furniture.
Bring your old life into your new life -Involve family and friends in the move and resettling.
Start new memories – Visit the new community as often as you can. Walk around the local shops, buy some meals from the area and cook them at home.
Start new patterns- Develop a route to drive past your new home as often as you can (on the way to or from somewhere).
Start new relationships -Talk to local businesses and start establishing connections similar to your old community, join groups and attend activities in the area.
Introduce yourself to neighbours.
Start new traditions- Invite friends and family to have regular lunch or coffee in the new community before you move. Establish a pattern that already connects you to the new location.
Create a coffee table book. Take photos of all your favourite places and people in our old community and make a book, invite people to write something to put in the book. Include photos of your new location so it spans the old and new as a natural progression.
Say goodbye- Have a farewell party or gathering before you go to celebrate your time with those people you have created memories with.
Get organised! Plan six to eight weeks before you move. Prepare lists of all the things you need and who should do it, then start delegating.(removalists, friend and family help days, utilities, post office etc).
Self care! Make sure you rest, take time out and don’t over do it. It always feels like it will never get done and yet it always does get done.
Adapt and be flexible. Nothing every goes exactly to plan so expect some hurdles and obstacles along the way. Have a few back up plans in case things go wrong. Remain calm and focused-moving is the solution not the problem.
Prepare yourself for the emotional fallout of moving. Whether you wanted to move or are forced to move the anxiety and apprehension is attached to the ‘unknown’ part of doing something new. Mentally reassure yourself why the move is important and why now. Remind yourself that with everything that is new comes opportunities to develop new friends, memories and grow as a person. Accept the move and focus on the benefits and possibilities the transition will present for you.
Allow yourself a short period of grieving. Leaving people and places behind impacts on our emotional well-being. The sadness and fear of moving away from secure places and people is real so give yourself some time to adjust and let go.
Remember everything you value is with you or just a phone call away.
(from an interview for the Sun Herald).