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Whether you are moving next door, across town, across the country, or moving in with your partner, moving is a stressful affair. Moving is considered one of the top life stressors and I agree. Moving means change and most people dislike change because it disrupts their life and routines. It also means separation from friends and family which can be particularly challenging. Moving can also cause stress on your relationship. No two people cope alike, and that can lead to conflicts. For example: although I came up with the idea of moving, I wanted to wait until my husband and I were ready to retire. He had an entirely different idea. Once we made the decision, he was ready to go, and that was not an easy negotiation. We finally agreed on a five-year plan and stuck with it. Also, if you happen to be someone with anxiety, moving can be overwhelming. Even if you aren’t anxious by nature, moving can mean an exciting new beginning or a series of painful losses or both. I moved to Austin 2 1/2 months ago and have met numerous other “newbies” to the Austin area. Here are some ways that I found can make relocating less stressful.
- Learn about the place you are moving to – Before moving to Austin, I visited many times. I took a tour of the city to find out more about the history and the different areas. I ventured out to different neighborhoods and talked to friends about who they knew in Austin so I could reach out to them. My niece, who happens to live here and moved from San Francisco, CA, had an excellent idea to have a “6 degrees of separation party” and invite all the people her friends knew here. Knowing I have family here and nearby has made the move less lonely then it would have been if I didn’t know anyone.
- Plan and purge – Planning and purging the stuff you don’t need anymore is crucial to lessen the burden of packing and unpacking. A year before our move, I started putting together items for a garage sale, a pile of things to dispose of, and a stack of items to be donated. We learned that our temple was sponsoring a family from Iraq, so we donated much of our furniture to them. I had to give away my father’s baby grand piano because moving it would just be too costly. That was a hard one! But, instead of keeping things you aren’t going to use (no one plays piano anymore), I took several pictures of it and planned to make a collage to display to remember it by. It takes up a lot less room than the piano would have and still holds the sentiment.
- Don’t forget self-care – As I said before, moving is demanding both physically and emotionally, therefore taking care of yourself is of particular importance at this time. Be sure to get enough rest, exercise and try to eat right (this can be a challenge when you are traveling across the country). For me, exercise is key to my reducing my stress. I’ve been going to yoga and spin classes to keep my anxiety in check. I also found it important to get emotional support and physical help from friends and family. I have a close friend who had worked at an antique shop and knew exactly how to wrap mirrors and framed pictures so they wouldn’t break in the move. I don’t know what I would have done without her! Keeping focused on your relationship and nurturing it as well is really important. I realized that with all the details I was trying to keep track of, it was easy to forget that my husband and I need to go out and just have fun!
- Grieve your losses – Moving means leaving behind close friends and family. It also meant for me leaving behind a place where I had lived for over 30 years. I knew where everything was from grocery stores and restaurants, to dry cleaners and gyms. Moving to a new city meant not knowing where anything was! I also had established close relationships with my doctors, dentist, and beautician. All that changed. It’s okay to feel sad and grieve the loss (or change) in those relationships because they will be different considering the physical distance. The hardest part was moving away from my sons. I wasn’t going to be able to have lunch spontaneously with my older son or meet my younger son in the city for brunch or to see a movie. It’s important to allow yourself to feel those feelings and honor them. Each new step in the moving process has made me very sad. It has helped me to cry and talk it out with friends. I found it hard speak with my husband about those feelings because he copes by focussing on the positive and doesn’t want to be reminded of the losses.As I stated before, no two people cope alike so if the 2 of you start to feel disconnected, it’s especially important to communicate that and work on re- establishing your connection. After all, at a time like this, you need each other! It also helps to make plans to visit, so you know you will see your friends again soon. I’m returning to New York for a visit this month, and that made saying goodbye a little bit easier.
- Meet new people and establish a new routine – Finally, I found it’s imperative to push yourself to meet new people. Knock on your neighbor’s doors to introduce yourself. Go to Meetup groups. Volunteer or find a job where you will meet new people. I have reconnected with old high school friends who happen to live in Austin. Also, establishing a new routine helps you not to feel so lonely. Establishing new relationship habits has been very important for me. My spouse and I relish our time together to explore Austin and have joined a Meetup Networking group that meets monthly. Doing these things together has helped bring us closer. Most important, give yourself time to adjust. It takes one to two years – sometimes longer – for people to adjust to such a huge change. I still at times think I’ll be going back “home” to my old house even though I sold it and now live halfway across the country!
If you would like support to help you deal with transition in life, whether it is moving related, divorce, making it through the holidays with difficult family, or something more general like learning about depression, do not hesitate to contact us to make a counseling appointment, as we offer several different types of types of therapies with excellent clinicians, such as dating and relationships counseling, family and parenting counseling, personal growth counseling, and depression counseling.