Whether you’ve decided to accept a new job offer in another city, found the perfect apartment on Trulia, or finally closed on the home of your dreams, a fresh start is always exciting. Packing all your belongings into boxes and lugging it all to a new home? Not so much.
We get it. Moving can be crazy and stressful — but there are ways to survive the process without aging yourself prematurely.
Here are seven ways to manage your stress before, during, and after you’ve boxed up your life.
Clutter creates stress. Minimize the junk clogging your closets and you’ll automatically breathe a sigh of relief. Clear the clutter from your home by organizing things you no longer need into three piles: Sell, Donate, and Toss.
Put big-ticket or valuable items in the “sell” pile. Then snap some photos and list them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. (Or go old school if the weather’s nice and hold a massive yard sale.)
Score a tax deduction by donating items to Goodwill or a local thrift store. Throw away or recycle any items that have little or no use left in them.
Here’s the most fun part: Eat through the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Spend the weeks prior to your move creating oddball meals based on whatever happens to be in your cupboards. And don’t forget to drink all your booze!
2. Clear your calendar
Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend. You’ll get more done by packing continuously for several hours than you will by packing in short bursts of time.
If possible, bribe some of your friends to help. Promise to buy them dinner and drinks if they’ll donate a few hours of their time to help you pack and move.
3. Accumulate boxes
Start accumulating a stack of newspapers and boxes several weeks prior to your move. Ask friends if they have leftover boxes from previous moves or visit local grocery stores and retail outlets, walk back to where the employees unpack the inventory, and ask if you can walk off with a stack of boxes. Costco and Trader Joe’s both keep a steady supply of boxes in-store.
If you’re willing to splurge, you can buy boxes from shipping and packing stores or your local home improvement store. The benefit to buying boxes is that they’ll all be standard sizes, making them easier to stack and load.
Don’t start packing without a strategy. One of the most efficient ways to pack your belongings is to methodically move from room to room. Clearly label each box based on where in your home it was packed. This way, when you unload boxes in your new house, you’ll know where each box should go.
5. Protect your valuables
The last thing you need is a nagging concern that you can’t find your wedding ring and passport. Those worries will stress you out more than almost any other aspect of moving!
Pack one suitcase as if you’re going on vacation and include the items you’ll need to immediately access, such as clean underwear, socks, and a toothbrush. Add valuables and the most important documents so that you’ll know they haven’t gone missing.
6. Give ample time and deadlines
Nothing is more stressful than knowing that you can’t start moving into your new home until 8 a.m., but you need to be out of your apartment at noon that same day.
If you can, allow for your time in each place to overlap. This may mean paying two rents or two mortgages for up to a month, but it will allow you the benefit of time — and that will work wonders on your stress levels.
Also, create minideadlines for yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll pack up one room per day, or that you’ll unpack for two hours per night after you move into your new home.
Finally, the best way to reduce stress is by outsourcing and delegating. Use online resources like TaskRabbit and Craigslist to search for people who can help you pack and move. Before they leave, ask them to help assemble furniture and move big boxes and furniture where you want it.
As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And when you’re moving, you need as many hands as you can get.