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5 Tips for Moving When You Have Anxiety

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Moving, especially when you have anxiety, is hard. I recently moved apartments, and no part of it is fun. There is the packing, lifting boxes, unpacking, and it never seems to end. It was made easier by being with my partner and the fact that we are moving in together for the first time. This is a big step in our relationship and in my adult life, and I’m excited. Nonetheless, the process of moving is still a beast. Here are five tips for moving when you have anxiety.

1. Give yourself time.

Sometimes time between leases or closing is tight, but if possible, build in several days or even weeks for the move. There is a lot to do, from packing, to actually moving everything out, and then cleaning. Having to rush any of these steps only adds stress. I gave myself a full week, and I was just moving to the other side of town. I was even able to mostly unpack as I went, load by load. If I had been moving farther, I would have tried to give myself even more time.

2. Remember to rest and eat meals.

It can be easy to get hyper-focused and want to finish moving. I am guilty of just wanting it done, even if that means not taking time to eat or sleep. But I am also aware that only makes me miserable, and not to mention, less effective at moving. When I plan time for these basic self-care tasks as part of my day, moving goes smoother and easier, and I feel better. Then, after we unloaded all my stuff into the kitchen, we created space, and my partner cooked us our first dinner in our new place. That was especially filling, and now I have leftovers too, for as I finish unpacking.

3. Ask for help, directly.

You do not have to move alone. Recruit friends, family, or pay a moving company if needed. Of course, these can be expensive, but there are usually neighbors with trucks who are willing to help. It’s OK to ask for help. For me, it can be hard to let others touch my things. This stems from OCD and anxiety, but it’s worth it to face that discomfort in order to save time and my back. And make sure to ask directly! People can’t always know you want and need help, unless you ask.

4. Allow yourself to be neurodivergent.

As I’m unpacking, my things will always go on the right side. This applies to the sink top, closet, bedding, etc. My boyfriend thankfully takes the left without a complaint. I don’t have a good reason for why my things have to be on the right, except for that it feels correct and the consistency is comforting. I need to be careful to not let OCD compulsions get out of check, but during this time of the high stress of moving, I allow myself this neurodivergence. It brings a little ease.

5. Practice mindfulness.

Through all of this, find little moments. There are plenty of structured mindfulness exercises out there, or it can be more indirect. For me, some ways I practiced mindfulness was taking time to enjoy hanging my artwork or sitting on the floor on a break to pet my cat. Mindfulness comes in all shapes and sizes. Your body and brain will thank you for these times of rest and attention.

Originally published: August 16, 2022
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