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Healthy Moving

By Nicole Daniels
June 2, 2023

You’ve found your new place through Listings Project and are gearing up for the move. While you might be thrilled to discover your new home, neighborhood and community, we know that moving can be a stressful experience. Most therapists agree that moving is one of the top five most stressful life events, and some people experience stress, anxiety and depression when making a move.* In this article we want to focus on practical ways to organize your move to provide as much ease and joy in the process as possible.

moving boxes

Photo by Nicole Daniels

Reach Out to Your Community

One way to create a seamless moving experience is to let your community, friends or family know what you’re planning and ask for support in ways that feel good to you. Would you like to call or FaceTime with a friend while you’re packing as a distraction? Could you use the physical support of a loved one to help pack or move boxes?

Setting clear boundaries and creating expectations around this support can be helpful for both you and your friends who are pitching in. Maybe you just need support for one hour to wrap up all of your dishes. Or maybe you need to ask someone to borrow their car for a couple of hours.

If you know that having extra people around will cause you more stress, or don’t have the time to rally a group together, prioritize your own care and downtime in the midst of the move.

Materials for the Arts

Photo by Materials for the Arts: Artist Dianne Smith stopped by MFTA pick up supplies

Organize the Move

Our number one tip to make packing easier is to get rid of anything you don’t need or want before you move. If you’re hoping to give away many of your belongings, you can join your local Buy Nothing Group, or you can donate things to a local organization that is aligned with your beliefs. If you’re hoping to make money from what you’re getting rid of, local thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace and second-hand clothing websites like Depop are all options. If you’re in New York City, you can donate to Materials for the Arts, a creative reuse center.

If you have time on your side, try to dedicate a set amount of time each day to pack. It could be as little as 20 minutes a day focusing on a single area of your home. Once you’ve organized your move, or if you’re moving in a rush, you can skip to the next step…

House with Boxes

Photo by Alyson Hyde

Packing Your Home

We recommend acquiring free, used boxes from a local store (grocery stores, liquor stores and bookstores are all good options); you can ask when their shipments generally come in or just keep an eye out on recycling day. Additionally, Freecycle, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Buy Nothing Groups are also great places to find free boxes.

When packing boxes, use clothes and soft items to cushion anything fragile. Try to put heavier items in the bottom of the box, but also distribute things like books or heavy pots and pans among multiple heavier boxes. Label all your boxes: what is inside them and what room should they go in? Labeling will make the packing and unpacking as seamless as possible.

Dog and Boxes

Photo by Nicole Daniels

Moving Day

If you’re in an apartment, check with your landlord, super or your lease about any regulations related to your move. If you’ve hired movers, make sure they have insurance and go over any needs you have about how your belongings are handled or moved. If your friends are pitching in, create a game plan, see what people are comfortable lifting, put on some music, stay hydrated, take as many breaks as possible and be sure to tip your movers, or treat your friends to some pizza afterwards.

Also, to help get your security deposit back, put cardboard on any tight corners in your building, lay down blankets or cardboard to prevent scratching floors and spend some time cleaning the apartment once all of your boxes are out.

Alexa de los Reyes: Energy Balancing + Intuitive Healing

Photo by Alexa de los Reyes: Energy Balancing + Intuitive Healing

Integrate Self-Care Practices

To relieve stress during a move, think of three top things that ground you: taking a bath, going for a walk, meditating, exercising, calling a friend or cooking. Then, try to incorporate at least one of these practices into each moving day.

If you’re experiencing physical tension and pain from packing or moving, you could consider working with one of our listers who offers body working services, in our Services Offered section on Listings Project. Or, you can practice self-massage techniques using objects around your house:

  • A tennis ball can massage out your feet or be used against a wall along your back

  • Frozen peas can relieve tight shoulder muscles

  • A rolling pin can be used to roll out tight quads or glutes

Healthy Moving Graphic

Moving Ahead

To put it simply, when you move, remember:
P - plan it out
A - accumulate boxes
C - call for help—professional or personal
K - know your limits (self care eases the stress)!

Once you’ve moved into your new home, prioritize rest and recovery if you can; you’ve made it through the hardest part. If possible, take your time to unpack box by box or room by room to make the load more manageable.

Finally, congratulations from Listings Project, and we hope you enjoy making your new place feel like home!

* Note: If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression and are in NYC, consider calling or virtually chatting with a counselor at NYC Well or The Samaritans. For nationwide support, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration free confidential hotline at  1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Cover photo: Zach Blaue

Nicole Daniels (she/her) was a Listings Project blog writer. Prior to her Listings Project days, she was a staff editor at The New York Times Learning Network, as well as a researcher and curriculum writer at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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