One of the things that we don’t think about in the excitement of moving and facing this huge change is that there is an emotional impact, and not just an exciting one. Change can be scary for us humans. I’ve dealt with lots of change in my life, from going to college a couple of times to living overseas in various places. How we approach change and moving is important. Here are some tips to think about as you get ready for and complete your move. Caveat: I am not a mental health expert, I’ve just moved around a lot and the advice below is just what I’ve learned on my own.
Prepare yourself mentally for the move.
Moving is just about your stuff, right? Nope. It’s about being in a completely different place both physically and mentally. While you are boxing up your possessions, checking out where the new grocery store will be, etc also think about how the move will impact you in terms of your friendships, your sense of security, and your sense of comfort. Especially if you are an introvert, the introspection now will help you feel more emotionally stable as things change. Take time out as you prepare to reflect on why you are moving, what it means to you and your loved ones, and what you hope for with the move.
It’s ok to be overwhelmed.
Yup, you read that right. You are going to feel like there is too much going on and that is ok. When that happens, take care of yourself. Take a step back. What can you do for yourself right in that moment? Is it watching a movie? Calling a friend or relative on the phone and venting your frustration? Crocheting a scarf? Building a tower out of Legos? Whatever is your go-to method for calming yourself, use it. There is no shame in taking care of yourself.
Have an escape plan.
It’s the day of your move or you’ve been in your new place for a few days, your favorite coffee mug broke in the box, the toilet just overflowed, some mysterious goo has melted all over your brand new work pants, and your
minion’s kid’s most favorite toy in the entire world has gone missing. What do you do? First, take a breath. Second, time for a break. There are plenty of places to get a cheap ice cream cone or coffee or something, take the kid(s) and get out. It’s totally ok. The world will not end if the kitchen is not completely unpacked. The toy will show up eventually. The toilet will get unclogged and somehow your pants will get ungooed. However, when it is all happening at once, it can be crazy making. Taking a step back will help you calm down and refocus.
Keep on reflecting
Now that you have moved, don’t stop thinking about why you moved or how your move has gone. Reflect on it. In higher education, many classes tell students that they have to journal as an assignment so that they are forced to reflect on what they are learning. Do the same thing here. Write on your social media of choice, in your blog, in your paper diary, wherever makes you comfortable. The most important thing is that you spend time thinking about the completed move and how you are doing. Super frustrated with how you keep banging your toe on a floorboard? Let that frustration out and think about how to fix the problem. If you have to take one more cold shower because the circuit breaker for the hot water heater tripped, you are going to scream? First off, check to see how hot it is set and lower the high temperature a few degrees and second, write it out! Express that frustration! Don’t bottle it up.
What if it all feels like too much?
Breathe. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed for awhile and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Don’t just sit on it. Go talk to someone. Yes, there are a lot of myths around seeing a therapist. You are not weak for wanting or needing to talk to someone. While few people will actively admit it, most people have talked to someone whether that is a therapist, a school counselor, a social worker, or some other mental health professional. It can feel overwhelming to try to find someone, especially in a new place. Psychology Today has a great Therapist Finder (I found one through there and it’s free!). What if you meet the therapist and you know it’s not gonna work? That’s ok! You gotta find the right fit for you. Try another person and don’t give up!
Change is hard and it’s good for us too.
Moving is a big change whether that is across town, the state, the country, or the world. Take care of yourself, try to have fun, and don’t be afraid to reach out for physical help (you! tall person! can you reach the top shelf for me?), moral support (I could use a hug right now or can we go to a movie together?), or more substantial support from a healthcare professional if you need it. Humans are pretty communal creatures and it is through helping each other that we not just survive, but thrive.