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Gemma Antcliffe counselling has moved!  For any clients coming to visit me, not much has changed. I am still based in Ripon, working from a home-based practise.  I work with adults who are experiencing difficulties and are struggling with their emotional wellbeing.  Our work together involves exploring key issues to gain insight, take control, and make positive changes.

Having just gone through the moving process, I was reminded why moving house is up there as one of the most stressful life events.  It is certainly a topic which has been brought into the counselling room.

Essentially moving house marks a significant change in our life.  Whilst there may be many positive reasons for the move, it can also incredibly unsettling, evoking a strong, instinctual reaction.

From a social perspective, creating stability within families and other larger groups would lead to longer and better lives.  Any threats could potentially change the status quo and undermine the wellbeing of the individual and/or the wider group.  On a primal level therefore, change (whether that be positive or negative) can activate a strong anxiety provoking response.

When it comes to finding a new house, no one is as invested as you.  Finding the right fit involves connecting with a vision of how your life might be in the new house, which means you are emotionally involved.  Added to which some of the language around house buying/rental such as “my dream home” carries a huge amount of emotional weight which can add real pressure.  There is also a lack of control and uncertainty, with thoughts such as “What if the seller pulls out?”, “What will the survey throw up?”, “What if the landlord chooses someone else?”.

The emotional process is further added to by moving from your old house and there can be a real sense of loss.  It may signify the end of a chapter in your life e.g., you are downsizing following children leaving home.  You may have special memories attached e.g., bringing your baby home from hospital, and you may feel sad to leave certain friends and neighbours behind.  Strong feelings and emotions can be brought up which add to the overall stress.

On a practical level, there are many jobs to do such as phone calls to solicitors, packing, finding new homes for things, establishing new routines etc.  Buying/renting houses and moving is not cheap, and there can be real financial uncertainty around whether you can afford it.  Yet despite this huge mental load, life and commitments continue as normal, putting a strain on your time and resources.

The multiple stressors linked to moving means it is not uncommon for people to experience disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, and pressure within their relationships.

How can you survive moving house?  I have made some suggestions which you may find helpful:

  1. Accept the process will be stressful. This does not take the stress away, but often going into a situation with your eyes wide open can help manage your expectations.
  2. Focus on the positives. Your new house may be in a better area, offer more space, have a beautiful garden etc.  In those hard moments, connect with how your life will be enriched.
  3. Accept help. Most people understand moving is stressful and tend to want to help.  However difficult you may find it, accept their offers!  In my experience, people don’t offer unless they want to.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Time may be scarce but where you can, keep practising self-care, even if those acts are seemingly small.

Remember, it’s normal to feel out of control during the process of buying/moving house. Yet it is a finite period in your life, and you will come out on the other side. As John Lennon said “Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”.

Photos by Tierra Mallorca & Nick Fewings from Unsplash