Moving: Don’t let it stress you out…or break your heart

It’s just a house. I know. But the fact is, the imminent move to our beloved and long-time second home in the country is still breaking my heart. That’s me. Heart prominently on sleeve.

Our city home is just a place and I’m actually quite okay about leaving it. It’s just all the darn memories and emotions that it holds. On days like today, it feels like the walls are whispering to me as I walk from room to room, sharing their memories of all the days gone by.

But I’m trying to focus on the present. It’s the only way I’ll be able to continue to do everything that I need to do.

I have also been trying to avoid “lasts” (last suppers, last sleeps, last year’s last Christmas, etc.) because I’m afraid if I face them, I won’t be able to carry on. But they’ve been unavoidable.

From left: My son Ren, partner Mike, and daughter’s partner Joel hard at work with garage renovations.
Daughter’s last breakfast in the old house.
Ren and Mike dressed for work!

We all know the country place, just 2.5 hours away  will soon feel like home. We already have many, many great memories there. I’m sure there’s many more to come.

But the fact is, good-byes are hard.

In a recent course I took on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the facilitator shared that when we continue to focus on the past, we’re at a greater risk for depression, and when we fixate on the future, we can feel higher levels of anxiety. Staying present and mindful can help us to work our way through our anxiety, to remain more calm, more focused and able to do what needs to be done.

I’ve had many days where I’ve wanted to put my head under my pillow and not get at some of the tasks related to this move. I found myself delaying working on the write-up to list our home, on setting the date for my son’s move, on purging, painting and cleaning, and the list goes on.

But then something changed. I decided to pull on everything I’ve learned about mindfulness, stay in the present, and do my best not to judge myself and others in the process. This has meant being kinder and reminding myself that my husband and I are actually on the same team!

When I’ve faced each task in the moment, taken steps to create a plan of action for the day (one day at a time), and followed through to do what needed to get done, I’m immensely less stressed by the idea of our move and relocation. I’ve been able to work tirelessly and get things done!

I’ve also paid special attention to the things that do stress me out and I’ve learned to manage them by either dealing with them in the best way I can, deciding they aren’t a priority and to let them go, or frankly asking myself what’s the worse thing that can happen? In virtually every case, I am realizing that everything will be okay as long as I take care of myself and my wellbeing first. Page 2 of this worksheet, courtesy of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, is an amazing resource for managing personal stressors.

Another thing I’ve learned is that we really do get better at pretty much everything with practice. In this case, a lot of practice has made me a fully confident painter, organizer, purger and giver of those things we no longer need to others in the community.

Following are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned as I prepare to depart this old house and city. The house is just about to be listed so I expect I’ll be learning even more as we open our doors to others who won’t be roaming through our rooms with the same fondness we have for every little nook and cranny. Our renovation has been somewhat relentless and I think something else has been going on. My partner and I absolutely want to leave this old girl at her very best (yes “she’s” become real to me:), showing her the respect and care we feel she deserves.

A little piece of my heart will always live here. But the rest will be coming with me fully intact and ready to embrace the new adventures that lie ahead!

My top 10 tips for getting through your move and staying well

  • Practice self-care. Do your best to eat well (although it’s really tempting to order out all the time!), get enough rest, continue exercise, meditation or other wellness routines and balance the demands of moving preparation with the rest of your life. For me, just taking a break to walk the dogs or walk anywhere has provided some balance.
  • Set reasonable, daily goals (again one day at a time) but get started as soon as possible to reduce the stress of last minute delays or surprises. It’s been amazing how long it has taken to get ready for our listing. But “she’s” finally ready!
  • Do regular check-ins with your partner and other family members involved in the move on your timeline and be realistic about what can be accomplished. Let go of things that aren’t critical and remember that you are on the same “team”!
  • Ask for help from friends and family, and do your best to make good use of their time, and assign specific tasks. For example, if you have a packing crew coming in, get boxes, packing paper and tape, markers, etc. ready. Same for the cleaning crew. Have the supplies they’ll need and a list of what needs to get done.
  • Purge and simplify. Measure the cost and hassle of moving some larger, or perhaps outdated or underused items against replacing them in your new destination. Be prepared to let go of items you haven’t worn or used for a while. No regrets! Yes, I am mulling over a pair of boots and a book that I tossed in the charity bin…but it is what it is (I have other boots and books!).
  • Set boundaries for outside demands on your time. Conserve your time and energy for critical tasks but allow some downtime to re-energize.
  • Manage the inner chaos. Protect some space in the home for your own down time. For me it was my home office as well as my walk-in closet! Try and keep this place free of clutter and chaos and perhaps make it the last room that’s packed up.
  • Recognize the emotions of others. There have been times I’ve had to grit my teeth when others aren’t getting to tasks, are being evasive or downright cranky and difficult. I’ve tried (and have not always succeeded) to tune into the emotions of other family members and friends around our move, refraining from judgment and accepting that the changes are tough on everyone. At the same time, I’ve been careful to set boundaries on taking on other peoples’ “stuff”.
  • Accept that goodbyes are hard. They’re even harder when you’re stressed out, cranky and overwhelmed with the project of moving. Give yourself time to say good-byes and permission to feel a level of grief and loss as you leave family, friends and even the old house that have all been an important part of your life.
  • Stay focused on the end goal. Find the light that can help you carry on through some of the mundane, stressful tasks. Maybe there’s a way you can celebrate getting through this in a way that honours the past but launches you into a bright new future.

There are two words that have always given me comfort and I’m sure they’ll resonate when, once we get through all this and walk through the doors of the new place, order and calm are restored.

Welcome home.

By Leanne

Leanne is MightyWrite’s lead writer. She believes in the power of stories that focus on our humanity and how what we bring to the world and each other is what really matters.

One reply on “Moving: Don’t let it stress you out…or break your heart”

Well said. Now that I’ve acted on most of your ideas, I still feel woozy from too much change. Let’s move!

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