You Can Banish Anxiety and Stress and Move House like a Superhero!
This article is for you if the idea of moving house is causing you some anxiety. If the thought stirs a deep, uneasy feeling in you or if you are having difficulty concentrating or you’re thinking in endless circles and having difficulty sleeping? Keep reading if you are crankier than usual right now and you’re finding it hard to smile or struggling to be positive about the future or the little things seem to be tripping you up.
Overcoming your anxiety about the move and getting back to, and staying in a calm, relaxed, and confident state is easier than you may think, and I’ll show you two easy steps to unwind and stay calm: even in the face of the challenges of moving house. So how do you access this stress-busting superpower?
Having a great mortgage broker and an excellent solicitor that you can communicate with easily and regularly always helps. Getting organised, being prepared, decluttering, planning, starting early, allocating enough time, having checklists, asking for help, delegating, and having an overnight box of essentials are all great ideas that will help the move go as smoothly as possible. However, whilst these measures may prevent stress from increasing, they will not reduce existing stress.
Let’s pause here for a moment and take a small step back to look at what stress is, what causes it and how it can be prevented or resolved. It’s easier to get to grips with it once we understand what is and how it works.
Anxiety or stress is what we feel when our adrenaline or cortisol levels, our stress hormones, are elevated. The more elevated these levels, the more stressed and anxious we feel and every time we have a negative thought/experience/feeling or levels elevate a little further.
Thinking of stress as something that goes into a bucket in the brain is a useful metaphor. We talk about a stress bucket. When the bucket is empty, we’re relaxed, and we have easy access to our conscious thinking and our intellectual mind. As the bucket rises, before it reaches the halfway mark, we’re coping just fine and still have plenty of capacity. Our rest and digest (parasympathetic) nervous system is dominant, which is a good thing.
When the bucket passes the halfway mark, we start to feel stressed and we’re finding it harder and harder to access our conscious thinking and our intellectual mind. At this point our fight/flight (sympathetic) nervous system becomes dominant and our brain starts reaching for negativity and calling for more stress hormones to cope with the perceived threat. This is where things start to feel a little challenging.
By the time we pass the three-quarter mark, we’re feeling overwhelmed and now we’re having real difficulty thinking clearly, and being positive and we often find our sleep cycle disturbed. At this point, we’re in full fight/flight and we’re accessing the negative, irrational part of our brain responsible for our survival. Things get interesting here because largely, we’re not accessing our conscious thinking and our intellectual mind and, instead, we are predominantly reacting irrationally and instinctively.
This is because now, we’re in survival mode. When the brain senses such elevated levels of stress hormones it assumes danger and will take over your resources to focus on and try to find the source of the stress. Whether the threat is real or imagined, the response is the same. You see, this part of the mind, the Limbic System, does not understand conscious thought and cannot perceive the difference between reality or imagination. It simply and mechanically responds to basic inputs from your senses i.e., things you can see, smell, taste, touch or feel.
It is helpful to understand that when this part of the brain senses an emotion at this point, it will assume that that is the thing you want more of and it will provide it. i.e., fear will produce more fear. Don’t be alarmed by this though. We can use the brain’s ability to blindly obey and just produce more of the current emotion, to our advantage.
Another interesting thing to understand about thoughts is that they don’t turn up with emotions. A thought will turn up as just that, a sterile, feelingless thought. It’s only when we reach into the future or the past and make an association with a negative outcome that emotion turns up and pins itself on our thought.
So, we know that it’s our thoughts that cause the bucket to fill in the first place. We also know that the fuller the bucket gets, the worse we feel. Here’s some good news. Every night when we’re sleeping, we go through Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M) cycles every 90 minutes or so. One of the very many wonderful things that R.E.M does is it will naturally flush out stress hormones – it’ll do its best to empty our stress bucket while we’re sleeping.
What if I’m not sleeping properly, I hear you ask? What if I’m having difficulty falling asleep, or I’m a light sleeper, or waking up way too early and not able to easily fall asleep again or, perhaps, having a long sleep but struggling to get out of bed – not waking up rested? This should not cause alarm, it is simply a very good and accurate way for you to tell exactly where your stress bucket is at.
You see, when there is a lot of anxiety at bedtime, your brain perceives danger and won’t let you rest. It will want to keep you alert and focused on whatever the problem is. At some point, the conscious mind gives in and allows the subconscious process of sleep to happen.
R.E.M uses a great deal of energy and, in the process of trying to empty your bucket it may decide that the energy threshold has been exceeded and then it’ll wake you up – effectively saying to you, “that’s enough for one night, no more sleep, we’ll try again tomorrow”.
The reverse could also be true. You may reach the energy consumption threshold whilst trying to empty a full bucket and your brain may decide to prioritise the bucket instead and allow you to continue sleeping. The result is waking up tired because you’ve overdone the energy thing and, because the bucket isn’t empty yet, the brain wants you back in bed to have another go at the bucket.
Regardless of which of these sleep patterns you are experiencing, the solution is reducing what we’re putting into the bucket in the first place. You see, if every day, we’re putting a little less into the bucket, and every night we’re sleeping some stress out of the bucket, then gradually, and sometimes very quickly, we reduce the level of the bucket to the point where R.E.M can easily empty the bucket during sleep. With the bucket now empty, R.E.M can turn its attention to what it wanted to do in the first place; consolidate memories and learnings, repair, heal, restore, detox, and hundreds of other vital functions.
We rapidly start feeling better when we’re sleeping better and because our bucket is now low to empty, we have easy access to our positive, intellectual mind and conscious thinking. The sky becomes blue again, the birds are singing again, and the trees are back in bloom.
The final part of the puzzle is understanding that the stuff happening to us – the move and the 101 things that may have a negative outcome – is not what ends up going into our bucket. It’s how we perceive those things that cause us to produce those stress hormones that end up in the bucket. Knowing that we’re doing it to ourselves is actually a very good thing. It gives us our agency back. If we’re doing this to ourselves, we can also stop doing it. We realise that we are not victims and that we are fully in control.
OK, so here’s the magic. If it’s all about perception and what we choose to do with the perception then here are two easy steps to manage, reduce and even eliminate any unnecessary stress. I say ‘unnecessary’ because the right level of stress is actually a very good thing. It’ll keep you sharp, alert, and alive. Stress only becomes a challenge when there is too much of it.
Here are the two easy steps that you can use to reduce the stress of moving home:
Step 1: Identify the Thought
Make it a habit to be aware of how you are feeling. When you feel your stress levels rising, take a quick look at what’s happening around you right now and ask yourself, “What was I just thinking to make me feel this way?” If you’re quick, it’ll be very easy to identify the thought i.e., “the labels are going to fall off the boxes and they will get mixed up”. You’ve just easily identified the name of the tap that turned on and started filling your bucket. You’ve found the culprit.
Step 2: Acknowledge the Warning
At all times your subconscious mind is trying to help you stay alive and keep you safe. Its intention is always good. Every time you have a thought like, “the labels are going to fall off the boxes and they will get mixed up” your subconscious mind senses threat/danger and, since it doesn’t have a voice, it pops a bit of adrenaline/cortisol into your bucket because that is the thing that you will feel and hopefully take notice. It’s trying to warn you.
If you acknowledge the friendly, though uncomfortable warning sign, your subconscious mind will perceive that the message was heard, and it will stop warning you. No more stress into the bucket.
If, however, you ignore how you’re feeling and try to soldier through, you will be ignoring the warning signs and your helpful subconscious mind will keep churning out the warnings, again and again, and your bucket will rapidly fill. It’ll keep shouting louder and louder until you feel uncomfortable enough to listen.
So, here’s how you acknowledge the warning:
Let’s say that you recognise the thought as “the labels are going to fall off the boxes and they will get mixed up”. If you take whatever thought you have and repeat it back to yourself almost the same, but you just take the edge off slightly, you’ll get something like this, “the labels may not fall off the boxes and they may not get mixed up”. Other examples might be:
- This move is going to be a disaster …vs… This move might not be a disaster
- It is all going to go horribly wrong …vs… It is not all going to go horribly wrong
- This was a very bad idea …vs… This was not my worst idea
The aim is not to turn a negative into a positive but to simply acknowledge the warning, just as you heard it, and repeat it back to yourself just a little diluted.
Doing this will mean the subconscious mind will only warn you a couple of times in a day instead of 30, 40 or 50 times. If you play the tape forward and stretch this concept across all the things that are happening in your day, across each instance, this process then makes a huge difference to the level of stress in your bucket, making it easier for R.E.M to empty it and allow the full entourage of the magic of sleep to happen.
Some people find that this technique takes a little practice before it becomes an easy, automatic response.
If you’d like to explore any of these ideas further, I’d be happy to see you for a free 50-minute Discovery Session on Zoom where I can find out a little more about you, what’s going on with you and what you’d like to achieve. I’ll use the time to explain why you feel the way you do, and I’ll show you exactly how I’ll help you achieve your objective. By the end of this free session, you will be in a better place to decide what is best for you. You can banish anxiety and stress and move house like a superhero!
How to get in touch?
Check out what our Professional Sport clients had to say about our service HERE
0800 8620 840