April 15 2016
House Moves

Stress & Moving

By Eimear O’Hagan – 

If you have ever moved house, then will agree it’s one of the most challenging life events, both physically and emotionally.

In a recent poll, two thirds of people voted moving house top of their stress list, as it triggers more anxiety than relationship breakdowns, divorce and starting a new job.

It is so stressful because it involves having to cope with change. According to Nicky Lidbetter, Moving house represents a transition in life, it’s about change and unfamiliarity and for many people that causes stress and anxiety. Most of us like familiarity, routine and order. When you’re moving, you have none of those. Plus, it causes a ripple effect of change throughout your life. You’re not just changing your home and getting to know the new one, you might be in a new area, you have to find new schools for your children, take on a new commute to work, find a new GP and dentist.

She says that if you feel stressed or anxious, that’s perfectly normal. “It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s an understandable reaction. The lack of order, the uncertainty and upheaval that surrounds a move can trigger underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety, OCD and depression.”

“Take time off work and get someone to mind your children”

Moving is a massive upheaval, and we are inherently territorial creatures who like familiarity and routine, so it creates a lot of uncertainty and chaos in our lives. (Dr Sandi Mann)

Moving can put a particular strain on families and relationships. TV personality Trisha Goddard, a family resolution and mental health activist, knows the stresses all too well. “Not only have I moved house with little ones, I’ve also moved from one continent to another,” she says. “Parents always feel guilt at moving kids from their friends and home – but one thing you cannot afford to do is ignore the potential impact moving will have on you.”

The Advice is…

  • Give yourself as much time as possible to deal with the move. “If you can, clear your schedule around the time of a move,
  • Take time off work and get someone to mind your children, so you are not spreading yourself too thin.
  • Preparation can also help in managing stress levels. “If you can do things in advance, for example, switch your broadband to the new address, register with a new GP in the area, plan in advance what furniture and items will go in what rooms… all of that will help the actual day feel a bit less overwhelming and more controlled.”
  • As hard as it might feel at the time, try to focus on the positives of what you’re doing. Embrace the change instead of focusing on the difficulty of a move.

“Although there might be a lot to do, taking an occasional break is key”

Remember why you made the decision. Perhaps you’re moving to a bigger house, or to a beautiful area, nearer friends and family. Remind yourself why it will be worth all the effort you are putting in.

Looking after yourself is key. Get enough sleep and eat well. Don’t be too busy to look after yourself, try and take an occasional break. A breather is essential, whether that’s going for a walk, a trip to the cinema, meeting up with a friend… it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with your house move.

Sit, stand or lie down and breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of five, then slowly exhale for five. Do this for up to five minutes, clearing your mind and focusing on feeling calm and revived.”

If you start to experience symptoms such as mood swings, a racing heart and sweaty palms, and an inability to concentrate, then you may need to seek professional help.

The important thing to remember is that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Be kind to yourself, accept all help offered: it’s not a slight on your organising capabilities. And if folk offer to help, give them something concrete to do; a proper task that you can cross off your list. And if people are slow to offer help, damned well ask for it.”

The telegraph ( (27 July 2017)

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