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How to Handle the Emotional Challenges of Moving

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The Emotional Challenges of Moving

Humans are emotional creatures, and moving can have a massive impact on our emotional well-being. The process of relocating can be incredibly stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting.

For many people, this loss of familiar surroundings can induce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Moving to a new place means leaving behind:

  • Familiar faces
  • Routines
  • Support systems

Adding to these emotional challenges are the financial pressures associated with moving. Between packing, moving, and unpacking, the entire process can take a significant financial toll on individuals and families.

Recognizing and managing stress and depression during the move is crucial. To begin, the first step is to acknowledge the stressors of the move. [1]

Frequent moving can also leave people feeling tired and drained. Talking to friends or loved ones, or seeking professional advice might help provide some relief.

It’s imperative to find a safe space to feel vulnerable, such as joining a small group, senior living community, a meet-up club or support group. Finding fun activities like spending time with friends may also help alleviate the stress.


girl trying to handle her emotions surrounded by moving boxes


Causes of Stressful Life Events During a Move

There are several reasons why moving can be stressful, and recognizing the causes of these stressors is the first step towards managing them.


Finances can be a significant source of stress during a move. Moving involves a variety of expenses, from hiring movers to buying packing supplies to paying for storage, and these costs can add up quickly.

Moving often means giving up a stable source of income in order to start a new job, which can be a cause of financial uncertainty. The pressure to balance all of these expenses can cause considerable anxiety, especially for those who are tight on money or who have limited options for financing their move.

The financial stresses of moving can create an added layer of emotional challenges, on top of the already difficult task of adjusting to a new place and leaving behind old familiarities. That’s why it’s important to carefully plan out your budget and expenses before and during the move, to help alleviate some of the financial burden and make the transition smoother.


Changes in Routines

Adjusting to new routines is an unavoidable part of any move. Even something as seemingly simple as changing your morning routine can be a source of stress.

Sudden changes in the home environment or housemates can be particularly difficult. It takes time for individuals to adjust to different people and routines.

Establish routines as soon as possible after the move. This could mean establishing specific mealtimes, bedtimes, or other daily tasks that can help create some normalcy in your life.


Loss of Connections

Moving can also mean a loss of connections with family and friends. This can be especially difficult for people who are used to living in the same location their entire lives.

It is recommended to maintain communication with loved ones through phone or video calls to alleviate feelings of sadness or stress during this time.

You can also take the opportunity to explore your new home and create connections with new people in the area. Joining local clubs or signing up for classes are great ways to meet new people and explore your new city or town.


Fear of the Unknown

When moving, it’s natural to feel anxious about the unknown. It can be difficult to adjust to a new home or unfamiliar surroundings and this fear can lead to stress and other negative emotions.

To help ease this transition, make sure you’re well-informed about your new location. Researching your new home online can help get you acquainted with the area and make you feel more comfortable.

Explore your new neighborhood by taking walks or visiting local attractions. This can help give you a sense of familiarity with your new surroundings and make the transition less overwhelming.


Recognizing Signs of Stress and Depression

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or anxious before, during, and after the move. Recognize when these emotions have become more intense or have started to interfere with your daily routine.

Some of the signs of stress and depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent crying
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches

Be sure to recognize the signs of stress and depression and deal with them by seeking help from a mental health professional, as moving-related stress can impact both mental and physical health.

By recognizing the signs of stress and depression, you can take steps readily in order to manage your emotions and prevent serious mental health conditions. [2]


someone sitting on chair with there head in there hands


Managing Stress and Depression During a Move

The entire process from packing up to settling in can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing, which can cause several physical and emotional health problems. Emotional symptoms can crop up as stress takes hold, and these can range from feelings of anxiousness to relocation depression, homesickness, and a general sense of distress. [3]

The following are ideas for how to reduce these negative emotional symptoms during the transitional time.


Fun Activities to Reduce Stress Levels

Taking breaks to do something enjoyable can improve your well-being and help you better handle any emotional stress that may arise.

Some fun activities to consider include going for a walk around your new neighborhood, indulging in a refreshing cup of coffee or a meal at a local cafe,  and exploring the area to find new places to visit.

These breaks can help you feel more relaxed and reduce the stress levels associated with the moving process.

Remember that personal growth is a valuable skill that can positively impact your mental and emotional health in the long run. When you are feeling overwhelmed, taking some time to engage in fun activities may be just what you need to refocus and successfully complete the acclimation process.


Setting Up a Support System During the Move

Moving homes can be an emotionally and physically stressful experience. It’s important to have a support system in place to help alleviate some of the burden. One way to set up a support system is to reach out to friends and family members for assistance regarding the following:

  • Emotional support
  • Cleaning your new home and the old
  • Packing and unpacking

Consider hiring professional movers to take on some of the physical tasks, like heavy lifting, to lessen your workload and alleviate stress.

Another helpful option is to join a local community group or support network. These groups can provide a safe space to talk about the challenges of relocating, share resources, and connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

Online support forums and social media groups can also offer valuable guidance and advice.

While setting up a support system won’t eliminate all the stress of moving, it can provide a valuable source of comfort and assistance during this challenging time.

Remember to take care of your emotional well-being, seek professional help if necessary, and recognize the value of personal growth through this experience.


woman consoling other woman


Utilizing Mental Health Apps for Additional Resources

Moving can be an emotionally challenging experience, and it’s important to prioritize your mental health during this time. Fortunately, there are several mental health apps available that can provide additional resources and support.

BetterHelp, an online therapy platform, offers a mobile app that provides convenient access to therapy sessions, as well as messaging and additional resources.

This can be particularly helpful during a move, as you may not have easy access to traditional therapy services in a new location, and with so much to do, in-person counseling may not seem realistic, and texting may be the most convenient method.

Moodfit offers personalized tools and resources to help manage your mental health, while Happify allows you to play games designed to boost your mood and resilience. Sanvello offers a range of resources, including:

  • Coping tools
  • Therapy sessions
  • Peer support

Other beneficial mental health apps to consider include Headspace (which offers guided meditation and mindfulness exercises) and Calm (which provides relaxation exercises and sleep aids).

By utilizing mental health apps, you can access additional resources and support during a move, helping you manage any anxious feelings that arise.

Whether you need help managing stress, improving your sleep, or accessing therapy services, there’s likely an app available to meet your needs.



[1] Overcoming depression: How psychologists help with depressive disorders. (2023, March 7). American Psychological Association. Retrieved June 16, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/topics/depression/overcoming

[2] Teen depression – Symptoms and causes. (2022, August 12). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/teen-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20350985

[3] Depressive disorder (depression). (2023, March 31). Depressive Disorder (Depression). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression


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