If you were to take a look around me at this very moment, you would see two crates of books, a pile of flattened cardboard boxes, a half-filled tote of towels and exercise gear, three empty suitcases, random toiletries strewn across the floor, and two paper bags of clothes patiently waiting to go to the thrift store.
In case you couldn’t deduce the obvious, I’m in the process of moving.
During my younger, (more nomadic) days, I lived in two other countries, two states, and three different cities. I’ve enjoyed many moments where everything I owned would fit into my ‘98 Monte Carlo or a large backpack, and just as many moments where I had carloads of stuff.
After two years at my current place, I’m moving in with my partner in a different city. I’m fortunate to be an aspiring minimalist and have not accumulated too many possessions, but moving is still a very daunting and overwhelming endeavor, especially as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
Yet, over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about surviving the moving process. I’ve had times where I moved my life in a day and times where I had months to make the transition. I’ve moved from big home to small apartment, from dorm room to living room, from down the street to across the country. This is what I’ve learned. I hope these tips will help make your move more bearable, whether you are a HSP or not.
1) Use Moving As A Challenge To Declutter and Downsize
Have you had minimalism on your mind for a while now but never known how to start? Moving is a perfect opportunity. You can’t always feel the weight or space your belongings take up when you are stationary. But what about the space and weight that book takes up in your car or backpack? You can use this time to evaluate every item to see if it’s worth hauling across the town, county, or continent.
HSPs, given their ability to get easily overwhelmed, can arguably benefit the most from minimalism. When you minimize before moving, you set yourself up to have less to unpack, less to haul and less to maintain when you are settled in your new home. Less of anything translates to decreased overwhelm for a process that’s already inherently stressful for HSPs.
2) Give Yourself Plenty Of Time To Move (But Don’t Drag It Out)
Any HSP will tell you: rushing, hurrying, and doing many things at once is a recipe for overwhelm. There will be an unavoidable feeling of stress and rush on your moving day, but you don’t have to have the entire process be that way. You can start with giving yourself ample time to not just physically prepare, but to prepare mentally and emotionally as well.
Logistically, try to do as much as you can in advance of moving day. Given the size of your space, shoot to give yourself at least a couple days to get moved and clean your old place. If possible, give yourself a day or two after you’re fully moved to settle into your new home before going back to your usual schedule. You just went through a major transition. Honor your HSP nature and give yourself time to process and rest before jumping back into the rat race.
That said, don’t drag out the moving process unnecessarily. There will be a certain moment where you have to ‘rip off the bandaid’ and get all your essentials (bed/furniture) moved to your new place. Don’t linger between two places for too long.
3) Enlist Moral Support
When moving, it’s easy to feel unanchored. Your home, neighborhood, familiar routes were a way to keep you centered. Utilize the support of your awesome friends and family to help keep you grounded during the moving process. Process your emotions around your move with trusted friends or family so that it doesn’t pile up.
Don’t forget to enlist your loved ones to help you in logistical ways, too. Host a ‘packing party’ to have friends help get everything in boxes. Make dates with loved ones amidst packing to keep you grounded. Allow family to feed you meals when your kitchen is barren from the move.
4) Use Your Resources Wisely
Do you have the financial resources to hire movers? Do it. Ok, maybe you can’t afford professional movers, but do you have $20 bucks to pay your neighbor kids to carry your couch down a flight of stairs? Your back will thank you. Can you take a vacation day after your move to get settled in? Do it. Sometimes throwing a little (or a lot) money into the moving process can minimize the chaos. As an HSP, anything to minimize your stress will make a world of difference.
5) Give Yourself Enough Time and Solitude to Grieve and/or Rejoice
Moving will bring up STUFF. As an HSP, your home or current city may be attached to many intense memories and emotions. Moving will bring up both the emotions that you anticipate (i.e. sadness, joy) and those that you don’t (i.e. regret, anger). Moving is often synced with other significant milestones (i.e. break ups, moving in with partner, change in job). As HSPs, we need lots of time to process those things. Make sure you set aside quiet time to take a walk, sit in silence, take a long shower, or drive to let your thoughts and heart catch up with all the change. Allow yourself to honor and grieve whatever you are leaving behind and embrace what is ahead of you.
6) Create A “Survival” Bag
Identify your ‘must haves’ and make sure to keep those handy leading up to moving day. This is what we think of as typical essentials, such as medication or toiletries, but an HSP, you need to think of your comfort as survival. So pack up your most comfy pajamas, your favorite pillow, your journal/book, your favorite coffee mug, etc so that wherever you land at the end of moving day, you will have what you need to feel grounded and comforted. (Want an example? My moving/survival bag contains: essential oils, clothes, tea, two books, toothbrush, glasses, phone charger, snacks, and journal.)
7) Embrace The Chaos
There is no way for moving to go 100% smoothly. Your movers will come 2 hours late, your dog will have an accident in the middle of the dining room floor as you are carrying a large bookshelf, you will misplace your keys, and you’ll run out of tape. As I have talked about in my post about traveling as an HSP, sometimes you just have to sit back, relax, and accept the crazy. It will pass and your new space, your new home, will be ready for you to make new memories once you arrive.
How do you minimize overwhelm when moving? What’s in your survival bag?