De-Stressing Your Next Move

No one would deny that moving is stressful with a capital "S." There's the emotional strain of leaving loved ones behind, the unforeseen expenses that crop up along the way, and the endless tasks that require more energy than you have to give.

It's natural to hone in on the countless hassles. But as someone who has criss-crossed the country three times, I can attest that moving has an uncanny way of adding excitement and perspective to life.

Consider it a terrific opportunity to start over. Think of the fact that there are interesting people to meet, new surroundings to explore, and a real-life reminder that God never changes even when everything else does.

Unlike years past, when it was common to work and live in one community for decades at a time, our society is increasingly mobile with nearly 20 percent of Americans relocating annually.

There are plenty of practical ways to ease the tension along the way. Being aware of your sources of stress can point toward some helpful solutions. Consider these suggestions the next time you find yourself on the move.

  • No matter how organized you usually are or aren't ample preparation pays off. From turning off the utilities, to hiring a trustworthy moving company, to packing the breakables, the to-do list can become long and ragged. To top it off, packing typically takes twice as long as anticipated. So it's no surprise that seasoned moving and storage experts focus primarily on organization.

    Julie Ruiz, who has relocated numerous times, says her key to a smooth transition is simple: categorize and delegate. "If I begin to feel stress about anything, I write it down and remind myself that whatever comes up can be handled as long as I don't scare away all of my helpers by having a panic attack!"

  • Heighten your enthusiasm while lowering your expectations. Even if you begin the moving process with loads of energy, the physical and emotional demands may leave you exhausted. This makes facing the threat of loneliness, loss of identity and having to start over appear all the more daunting.

    As a rule, re-creating past circumstances only result in disappointment and discouragement. Rather, focus on what you have in the present not on how great life used to be. It's essential to let go of the hope that you'll move back, that you'll develop new friendships overnight, and that you'll immediately find your place in the community.

    The Bible offers a refreshing reminder: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

  • Take care of life's little details sooner than later. When my husband and I moved from Colorado to Wisconsin, it was months before we made the time to visit the DMV. Likewise, it's all too easy to put off redirecting magazine subscriptions, voting registration and credit card statements.

    Realistically, these logistics hanging over your head are a bigger nuisance than taking care of them. Once you're moved in, aim to knock out one pesky task at a time.

  • Look for ways to get involved in your new community. Moving from the U.S. to Canada was a challenge for Nancy Gueldner. At first, she hesitated finding her place in her new community. But after a lonely month, she took the plunge by volunteering, attending an area newcomers club, and joining a gym.

    "It was fun to finally make some new friends, and gratifying to know that I was helping people too," she says. "I felt happier and more at ease as I got to know the area and who lived nearby."

    Attending a local church is another simple way to connect, and a surefire approach to feel more at home not to mention a safe atmosphere for your children to make new friends.

  • It takes time perhaps years to adjust to new surroundings. There's no guarantee that you'll slide seamlessly into your new location. Culture, protocol and atmosphere vary from state to state. After more than a year in California, it's still a struggle to keep up with a faster pace of life.

    Yet even in the midst of this and so many other changes, I find comfort in these words: " . . . the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6). May you find encouragement and stability in God who is always available no matter where you move.

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