Reading time:
1 min read

Moving Stress

Moving stress is a feeling most human beings dread almost more than any other. New research shows moving is considered by many adults to be the most stressful experience of their lives. In 2015, British energy company E.ON UK surveyed 2,000 adults who moved home in the three years past. Their findings reveals that moving homes is so tough that it actually tops the list of life's most stressful moments, according to them. Six in ten people (62%) voted moving homes as their most stressful life event, beating a romantic relationship break up/divorce (43%) and starting a new job (43%). How can we lessen the stress and trepidations that befall moving day? Oz invited stress management professionals from New York, Los Angeles, and more to weigh in on how the stress of moving can be limited, and we found a lot of fascinating ideas, and just maybe, the plan to a stress-free move.


1. Make a Moving Plan

Most potential moving stress-causing problems can be prevented by simply planning ahead for your move. “Planning is a great method for relieving stress, nervousness, and preoccupation. If you make the effort of thinking ahead, you can reduce the uncertainty of the removal process, and adopt measures so that the whole thing is done smoothly, efficiently, and as inexpensively as possible.” says John Vespasian, author of seven books about rational living. Winging it in a situation with this many moving parts won’t do.

If you don’t know where to start with your planning, use the Oz Moving “Ultimate Moving Checklist.” It’s got reminders of some of the most important things you’ll need to do before you move, like fill out your change of address forms, gather medical and legal records, and organize your inventory. It’s also completely customizable; add things or remove them to your liking. If you prefer something non-digital, Stress expert LA-based Licensed Psychologist Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D recommends using a notebook. “[You can] Have separate sections for your realtor, escrow officer, inspector, appraiser, bank loan officer, seller, future neighbors, condo association managers, etc. Decide on a time-line for answers and write them down as you get them.” You can take the relevant tasks from the Oz Moving checklist and write them down in your notebook.



Planning out your move can help you visualize how it will end, and that image may prove quite useful in relieving that stressful “everything will go wrong” feeling. Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, LMT, RM tells us that "Visualization is another fabulous tool for stress.” In this case, you can use your imagination to your advantage. “In the days leading up to your move visualize exactly how you would like it to go. Envision everything getting in place where it's supposed to be, the boxes being taken away in a relaxed manner and basically everything going exactly how you would like it to be. It sets you up to feel better about the whole situation and many people believe you can change the external circumstances.” Visualization can be a key part of the planning process. You will need to determine how you’re going to live in the new home, after all. Dr.Tessina says,  “Once you visualize it a number of times, it will become ingrained enough to feel more comfortable and you won't feel so stressed about doing it. Having something different to focus on will make the psychological changes easier.”

“Psychological stress can be also reduced if you spend some time identifying and preventing the risks associated with the removal.”, John Vespesian adds. The riskiest parts of the move should be planned for at first.  “For example, if you have expensive items to be transported from your old home to your new home, you should not hesitate on purchasing insurance. Even if your items are packaged very carefully, you should not underestimate the risk of those items suffering damage during the removal, either due to accident or due to negligence.” Consider your plan for buying movers insurance as well as scheduling (which can include booking movers, booking your outgoing / incoming building’s elevators, taking time off work, etc.), and whatever else seems most likely to create problems with your specific circumstance.


 Planning Ahead can help make moving less stressful.


2. Get Started Early

“Research shows that many individuals experience anxiety and elevated stress levels in anticipation of all that needs to be done during a move”, Denise Limongello, Licensed Psychotherapist and Expert on Stress Management based in Manhattan, Tells us.  “Research also indicates that individuals tend to respond to anxiety and fear by avoiding important tasks. Avoiding important tasks, rather than dealing with them, head-on can also prolong anxiety, rather than eliminate it. is right - it’s important to stagger your moving day tasks. “A great way to deal with anxiety is to steadily execute tasks on your to-do list--rather than letting them build up.” Melissa Heisler, a Stress Reduction Expert who recently wrote about her moving experience for the Washington Post, concurred: “If you look at all that needs to happen during your move it can be  overwhelming. Do a little bit at a time and you will make progress.”

Get started as early as 2 months prior to your moving day with tasks on the Oz Moving checklist - though if you ask us, it’s never too early to get started. Here are some of the things you can get started on:


  • Set a Date, Then Book Everything: If you can, circle a date on your calendar and book everyone and everything right away. This way you won’t risk running into a scheduling issue.
  • Label Your Old Boxes: Heisler adds, “One may want to hurriedly place things in this box or the next. Be sure to label and put like things together. This will help minimize the stress of setting up your new location.” Get started on labelling boxes early, and write your name on them in case something happens.
  • Declutter your home  - Our guide to 20 things you can get rid of before you move [and how you can get rid of them] will help you reduce the moving day workload and open up new space in your new home.  
  • Change Your Address - Anywhere you can think you should. Start with your bank, credit card provider, USPS, and work your way to magazine subscriptions and items of lesser importance. If you’d like, make announcements to send to friends and family.
  • Utilities - Look into setting up utilities in your new home. Check out our full guide to setting up utilities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.


Letting Friends Help You Move


3. Ask for help

“ Never do it alone,” says John Kim, life coach and certified therapist. “It’s not good for your mental well being. If you decide to do it alone, because you don't want to "burden" your friends, you’ll feel lonely, bad about yourself, and angry and frustrated because of all the physical work.  You'll be setting yourself up for some negative feelings that you may end up internalizing.  So, if you don’t have anyone to help you, hire someone or many someones.” Denise Limongello encourages delegating too. “In a recent survey of people who reported pleasant moving experiences, many reported that asking for help and having delegated responsibilities to family and friends alleviated stress and worry on the actual moving day.”

If your friends or family are game to help you pack and move, you can get them involved in creative ways. Dr. Jeanette Raymond. suggests “[Planning] family tasks each weekend” such as going through clutter to get everyone involved in moving together. A communal moving experience seems to feel less stressful than doing it alone. With your friends, you can have a little bit of fun with it too. If you plan on paying them in pizza and beverages, Kim recommends turning into something fun. “Tell yourself you’re going to make it a fun positive experience.  That energy will not only get you through the long day or two but will also help others.

If everyone else is too busy to help you, consider hiring help.

  • Professional movers like Oz Moving & Storage can help relieve some of the stress of moving day by professionally packing fragile items and doing all the heavy lifting for you. Even if you’re driving your own truck, you can hire a helper or two to make the process easier on yourself.
  • Organizers can help you get everything in order before your moving day. They can help you sort out your stuff and get rid of things you didn’t need. Two we can recommend in NYC: Angela Kantarellis and Done & Done Home.


Moving With Children 

4. Take Care of Yourself

Perhaps the most important step in the process of relieving moving stress is taking time for self care. Like other stressful activities, moving can get people out of their comfort zones and distract them from the parts of their routine that keep them relaxed. Dr. Raymond says, “it’s tempting to skip meals, eat at irregular times or just grab junk food when coping with all the hassle of moving. Make sure you make time for healthy choices, eat often, and with people who enjoy the same food. You will maintain your energy level, prevent irritability and have more patience. ”

A little extra care in this situation may be needed, too. “The primary thought to keep in mind during the moving process is that moving is one of the top stressors in one's life.” says Melissa Heisler. “To expect to conduct ourselves as "business as usual" is only going to create more stress.” Holly LaBarbera, California-based Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist has a few suggestions:  “Ending your day of packing with a warm, soothing bath; taking a break with a walk outside; listening to fun music as you pack; anything that gives you a bit of enjoyment or a break from the job of moving or thinking about the move, will help you cope with the stress.”


Stay Positive to relieve Moving Stress

5. Stay Positive...

Staying positive and looking at the bright side of the move can function as effective self-care as well. You can get through moving day and end up in your new home with a new purpose. During the moving process, Dr. Gruver suggests using affirmations. “ It's estimated we have about 60,000 thoughts a day and 50,000 are negative. Rather than trying to stop thinking things, which is incredibly difficult, try changing them using positive talk instead. Dr. Gruver suggests thinking things such as "I am organized and efficient,” and “I can do this.” Dr. Raymond reminds us to look back at what we have accomplished and reward ourselves. “Recognize your accomplishments and treat yourself for [what] you have completed.”

It doesn’t hurt to stay optimistic about what comes after, either. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, notes that a lot of the stress from moving comes from uprooting yourself from comfortable patterns in your old home. Visualizing everything in your new home can help you better look forward to the new home. “Picture yourself being successful in your new job and home. Imagine settling in seamlessly. Visualize yourselves enjoying the time you have together. When you create a mental picture of how [this] will look, you'll feel more comfortable with your changes.”

...But Don’t Deny Your Feelings

As Denise Limongello points out, what’s being left behind is often a contributor to moving day stress. It’s easier to accept that you’re going to miss some things and embrace them.  “ A recent study shows that a great many people who experience sadness and emotional distress during a move attributed those sad feelings to a fear of missing the home they're about to leave behind. Taking the time to appreciate your home before your move can be a way to take positive memories with you to your new home.” Embracing your negative emotions is a positive step. In our conversation with LMSW Debbie Radzinski on moving with kids, she told us to “surrender” our anxieties and stresses during the moving process as a mode of catharsis. “Know that you are grieving loss consciously or unconsciously so you need to allow yourself with the mental and emotional space to grieve.” notes Melissa Heisler.

Once you embrace the full reality of the move, there’s no stress that can get past you. Sure, it’s a trying process, but most of us have gone through tougher and didn’t get such an exciting chance to start new at the end. With all of this in mind, we can beat moving stress and stay calm during one of the most exhausting days of our lives.


Thanks again to everyone who participated in this post!

Make sure to Like Oz Moving & Storage on Facebook for more great moving posts.

Top 5 Popular Reads

Get a Free Quote

Get a Free Quote

Get a Free Quote in Just Minutes

Certified by