,

4 Ways to Prepare Your Emotional Self for Moving

5:26 PM

image credit: aurimas, design cloud / ©2013 / via flickr / licensed under creative commons


To move is to plan. It's to list, to decide, to coordinate, to sort, to manage. It is to really, truly uproot—to pull oneself up and out of the ground, to shine light in dark corners and dig through forgotten possessions and relive memories and then pack them up or give them away.

Pinterest can tell you how to do this in the best functional way. Moving companies, blogs, chronic wanderers, can tell you the best way to pack boxes, the best way to label, the best way to organize and purge and pack and unpack.

We used many lists. We color-coded our boxes, we made note of things to unpack immediately, we efficiently and effectively prepared for the functional side of flux.

And yet, in the midst of all this functional preparation, there were no lists to assist the emotional side of flux. No lists told me how to best prepare my heart, how to cope, how to weather the storm of emotions that would be coming my way.

Moving is physically and mentally difficult. You're using muscles you've forgotten and you're coordinating endless amounts of information. But, in the midst, you're also trading a place in which you have countless memories for a place in which you likely have none. You're trading a known past for an unknown future. You're trading walls that have seen birthdays, anniversaries, first steps, new friendships, great meals, fresh flowers, small moments, last meetings—for walls that hold no meaning at all. For my hopelessly nostalgic self, at least, this was not easy.

And so, a list. Four ways to cope with emotions when moving.

image credit: daily suze / ©2011 / via flickr / licensed under creative commons


1. Prepare a gift for yourself and the people you love. 
No matter who's doing the heavy lifting—movers or friends—you'll find yourself physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day. After a weeks-long flurry of activity—house hunting, buying, packing, coordinating, moving—you'll undoubtedly have your first moment of quiet in weeks. You'll stand in your new place, surrounded by boxes and unfamiliar sounds, and look at each other. You'll feel so many things at once and you'll be able to articulate nothing. In this time, when your body and mind and spirit are exhausted, give yourself a gift.

To Do, 1-2 Weeks Out: Plan your gift in advance at a time when you're calm and dreaming and thoughtful. Make it special, pampering—something calming and relaxing that you wouldn't typically buy for yourself. Perhaps it's a special bottle of wine, perhaps luxe chocolate, perhaps a peppermint-infused cooling oil for your face or feet. Wrap it beautifully and carefully. Surprise your partner and your children with something, too. In a time when you're emotionally wiped, this small token of kindness and love from your past self to your present self will make an enormous difference.

image credit: thomas huang / ©2014 / via flickr / licensed under creative commons


2. Turn feelings of regret or remorse into dreams.
The day we closed, my ever-insightful boss told me to prepare myself for buyer's remorse. Impossible, I thought. We've been working towards this close for months. I have no regrets. I'm ready. But sure enough, in the stillness of midnight, I found myself filled with angst. Had we made the right decision? Was it really a good investment after all? Are we stuck? Are we boring? Is it even that cute? Have I been so fueled by emotions this whole time that I failed to see what a dreadful mistake this is? My boss's words were a comfort—he knew this was coming, he told me this is normal, and I have no need to angst. What I'm feeling is okay and what I feel tomorrow will be different.

To Do, In The Moment: Take a deep breath. Know that you are not alone, that what you're feeling is normal and expected. Know that you likely cannot change the things you're regretting, and therefore that regret is meaningless. Instead, turn your energy into dreaming. The very act of movings permits fresh starts and new beginnings—it's a chance to break bad habits, to develop good ones, and to be closer to the person you hope most to be. Make a "Who I Want to Be & How I Want to Get There" list or love letter to yourself. Keep it safe—in a few weeks, when you're struggling through organization and new routines, pull out this list and remember your dreams.

image credit: coco+kelley / ©2010 / via flickr / licensed under creative commons 


3. Thank your old space.
As your old home is emptied, it will start to look foreign. Removed from the context of your stuff, it will start to look beautiful. Fresh. Like it did the day you moved in. Memories will flood those empty rooms. The day we moved, I stood staring at the patterned linoleum of our old kitchen floor and I could hear ghosts of old friends moving in and out. I could hear laughter from the now-removed table in the dining room where we played so many games. I could hear music outside where we had so many cookouts. I could smell Christmas. I could see two-month-old Rupert struggling to climb the stairs. I could see the face of a friend, so sweet and kind, at the bon voyage party we hosted to send her off to California—the last time we saw her before she passed away.

To Do, Day Of: In those moments, when your heart feels like splitting in two, thank your space. Thank the walls, which kept you safe and dry. Thank the rooms, which hold your memories forever within them. Thank the floor. Thank the little oddities that you love, and thank the ones you don't. The beauty of houses is that they are both so personal and so shared. It's your safe and private nest for the time you're in it, and then it becomes someone else's. Every place holds the beauty of the past and the hope of the future. Thank your space for what it has been to you, and bless it for what it will be to the next dwellers.

image credit: gifted magazine / ©2010 / via flickr / licensed under creative commons


4. Get to the better side of normal, fast. 
The first few days in a new home are crucial for getting your emotional self on track. You'll be exhausted, but also invigorated. Everything will be new and fresh. You'll see the potential for great beauty in unpainted rooms filled with boxes. Ride this wave of excitement—get unpacked, get going, keep moving. Push yourself through one more box. Bite off bit after bit. Fight feelings of overwhelm with true hard work. After about a week, the newness wears off and true weariness sets in—and with it, grumpiness and bad habits. This is where we are now, in the land of never-ending boxes, in the field of should've taken the week off and will this ever end. The sooner we get through the piles, the sooner we can start making our new house our home.

To Do, 1 Day to 1 Week After: Read functional lists that can tell you the best ways to unpack, and believe them. Stick with your schedule and all of that. But also, keep in mind that the exhaustion you feel is real. It's extreme. Your body and your mind are going through a lot. Work hard, but treat yourself. Use the gift you've given yourself. Remember the dream list you made. Keep in mind the vision you had, days before you moved in, of the life you would create. And, as you're remembering those things, take a moment to sip your coffee peacefully. Listen to the new sounds surrounding you. Buy yourself flowers. Remember that you are you, but better. You 2.0. You, the dreamer, the believer, with the better life that is just beyond the last ugly box.

Good luck to you. May this new leaf be just a sign of a beautiful forest ahead.

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