The Mental Toll of Moving and How to Handle It

What Is the Effect of Relocation on One’s Mental Well-Being?

Moving to a new place can be exciting and refreshing, opening up opportunities for growth and change. However, it can also be challenging from a mental health standpoint, as the upheaval involved in moving can trigger stress, anxiety, depression & other mental health conditions. Changes in routine, social structures, social network activities, and physical environment can all take a toll on a person’s well-being. [1]

Moving is a major life event that can have a significant impact on mental health. The stress of packing and organizing belongings, saying goodbye to friends and familiar surroundings, and adjusting to a new environment can cause mental and physical exhaustion. This may further lead to poor physical health and affect the overall well-being of a person.

To handle the mental toll of moving, it can be helpful to seek support from mental health professionals, engage in physical activity, connect with a social circle, practice favorite activities, and maintain a healthy family structure.

It is valuable to acknowledge the difficult experience that moving can be and understand that different individuals may have unique challenges and experiences during the moving process. Be aware of the mental health effects of moving and seek help accordingly. In this article, we will explore the mental toll of moving and how to handle it.


counseling session


Mental Health Can Have an Impact on Overall Health

Mental health is an integral part of our overall health and well-being. It impacts not only our thoughts and emotions but also our physical health. The mind-body connection is a crucial aspect of our overall health, and neglecting our mental health can have detrimental effects on our physical well-being.

High levels of stress can impact cardiovascular health and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Elevated stress levels can contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn puts additional strain on the heart. The constant state of anxiety and stress also leads to a higher production of cortisol or the “stress hormone,” which can impact our cardiovascular health over time.

Other physical health concerns associated with poor mental health include obesity, chronic pain, and substance abuse disorders. Stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to overeating, which contributes to weight gain and ultimately becoming obese. Chronic pain symptoms are also likely to increase with poor mental health, as the pain signals get amplified, and the body struggles to cope effectively. Substance abuse disorders like alcohol or drug addiction are also often linked to poor mental health, as individuals try to self-medicate to suppress negative thoughts and feelings.


Challenges Faced While Moving to a New Place

Sleep issues

Moving to a new place can be an exciting adventure, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. One of the most common problems individuals encounter during a move is sleep issues. Losing sleep during a move is a common experience, but it can escalate into insomnia or a disrupted sleep cycle. [2]

A lack of adequate sleep can lead to headaches, fatigue, and decreased mental alertness, which can make overall mental health worse. It can also make the unpacking process more challenging by reducing physical and mental agility and leaving you feeling drained and irritable.

Getting enough sleep is essential during this period. To achieve this, avoid staying up late to accomplish tasks, as it is less effective and can worsen your mental state. Instead, prioritize important tasks and make a plan to complete them earlier in the day.

man in bed staring at alarm clock



Depression can be a common issue during a move, especially because it is a major life event that can be disruptive and challenging. Millions of people worldwide experience depression, and among those are individuals who are living with temporary relocation depression, also sometimes referred to as moving depression.

It is helpful to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression to address the problem before it escalates. Some symptoms include feeling low, constantly withdrawn, unexplained crying, loss of interest in hobbies and activities, difficulty concentrating on tasks, academic decline, and thoughts or actions of self-harm. [3]

Recognizing these symptoms is vital, especially in children, who may not always understand what they are experiencing. If depression is suspected, seek medical advice for treatment for them. A child psychologist should become involved if the child is having behavioral changes associated with the move. They can complete an assessment to determine if there are any mental disorders in play. Therapy may include talking to a mental health professional, a behavioral health specialist, or taking antidepressant medication prescribed by a child psychiatric doctor.

If mental illness already exists for you or your child before moving, consider speaking with a therapist about a care plan and ensure that you have referrals to providers in your new town. Having a plan in place can ease worries and provide peace of mind.

Research indicates that moving to deprived neighborhoods has a negative impact on mental health, independent of the act of moving itself.

mind exploding in though illustration


Anxiety Disorder

Moving homes can be a stressful and challenging experience, and it can take a significant toll on our mental health. Anxiety disorders, in particular, are a common mental health concern that can be exacerbated by the stress of a move.

Anxiety disorders can manifest in different ways, including excessive worry, fearfulness, and avoidance behaviors. These symptoms can disrupt daily life, making it difficult to manage stress and function effectively. [4]

Moving can be a trigger for these symptoms, and it is essential to recognize the potential for them to arise and to have a plan in place to address them. Some common anxiety symptoms that may be experienced during a move include restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and an increased heart rate. If left unaddressed, it can result in more severe anxiety or even depression, leading to further negative impacts on mental health.

illustration of bi-polar disorder


Poor Immunity

Residential moves can be a physically and mentally stressful experience, which can take a toll on our overall health and well-being. One of the most significant impacts of the moving process is that it often weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to illnesses and infections. This can be particularly challenging to manage during the moving process, where time constraints and busy schedules leave little room for sickness. [5]

A weakened immune system can result from several factors such as poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and inadequate physical activity. These are all common issues that often arise during the moving process, where unhealthy eating habits, sleep disturbances, and physical exhaustion can become the norm.



Moving can be a stressful and chaotic experience, and it’s not uncommon to fall into unhealthy habits during this time, such as eating fast food, skipping meals, and not getting enough exercise. Unfortunately, these habits can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, individuals who moved more frequently had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t move as frequently.


Several Ways To Handle Mental Health While Relocation

Relocating can be both exciting and stressful, especially when dealing with the challenges of moving to a new place. It is common to experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression during this transitional time. Relocation depression, also known as transfer trauma or relocation stress syndrome, is a psychological condition that affects individuals and families as they move to a new home. The following tips can help you handle mental as well as physical health while moving and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.

Start Planning Early:

Moving can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but with proper planning, it can also be a smooth and stress-free process. One of the key factors to ensure a successful move is to start planning early.

Decide on a Moving Date:

Choosing a moving date is the first and foremost step to a successful move. It gives you an idea of how much time you have to plan and prepare for the move. Ideally, you should plan your move at least 6-8 weeks in advance to give yourself ample time to organize and pack things.

Create a Comprehensive Moving Checklist:

A moving checklist is a must-have tool for a stress-free move. It helps you track all necessary tasks like packing, forwarding mail, canceling subscriptions, and utilities. You can find plenty of pre-made moving checklists online or make one yourself to suit your specific needs.

Make a Moving Budget:

Moving can be expensive. Therefore, it is important to create a moving budget beforehand. This allows you to determine the amount you can spend and allocate funds accordingly for hiring movers, packing supplies, and other related expenses.

Decide What to Take with You:

Before moving day, it is essential to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. This not only helps you reduce the amount you have to pack but also saves time and money on the move. Be sure to dispose of any hazardous items and take only essential items to the new home.

Book the Services of a Professional Moving Company:

It is always a good idea to hire a professional moving company to make your move less stressful. Make sure to book their services well in advance to secure a spot on their calendar. If you decide to move on your own, reserve a rental moving truck at least a month before the move.

Ask Friends or Family for Help:

Moving can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you ask for help. Reach out to friends or family members and ask for their assistance in packing and loading your belongings. This makes the entire process quicker and more comfortable.

Handling Important Items:

Be sure to pack your essential items, such as passports, birth certificates, and jewelry, separately from other items. This ensures they are readily available when you need them. Remember, a well-planned and organized move can make a significant difference in reducing moving stress and ensuring a successful move.


Practice Self-Care

Moving can be one of the most stressful events in life, and it’s important to prioritize self-care during this time. The physical and emotional toll of packing, organizing, and settling into a new home can take a significant toll on mental and physical health. Therefore, it’s essential to make time for yourself and practice self-care.

One of the first steps in self-care during a move is to recognize and acknowledge the stress that comes with this change. Accepting that moving can be overwhelming and being kind to yourself can help reduce stress and anxiety. Try to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to have everything perfectly organized and packed. Instead, focus on taking small steps toward your goals each day.

To prioritize your mental and physical health during this time, it’s important to get enough rest. Moving can disrupt your sleep cycle, but it’s crucial to aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. Sufficient rest can help you stay mentally alert, regulate emotions and reduce stress.

Along with rest, a healthy diet is essential in maintaining physical health during a move. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and proteins will fuel your body and give you the energy you need to tackle the moving process. Avoid eating unhealthy and processed foods that can contribute to stress and mood swings.

Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and maintain physical health during a move. Regular exercise such as cycling, attending a gym, resistance training, flexibility, and balance exercises can also reduce depressive symptoms. Exercise produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that can improve mood and promote relaxation. Even a brisk walk or a 10-minute yoga session can be enough to boost your mood and help you feel more in control during this time.

Lastly, seek out support, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to friends and family for emotional support and consider speaking with a mental health professional if the stress becomes overwhelming. Keeping in touch with those close to you can remind you of your social support network and help reduce feelings of loneliness.


Express Your Emotions

Moving to a new home can be a stressful and emotional experience, and it’s important to acknowledge and address these feelings. Bottling up emotions can lead to added stress and anxiety, so finding healthy ways to express yourself during the moving process is necessary.

One way to address your emotions is by talking them out with family and friends. Opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings can lead to closure and a sense of relief. This will also remind you that you’re not alone and that others have experienced similar emotions during a move.

It’s important to accept a range of emotions during this time, as this will make them easier to handle. Rather than trying to push them away, acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience them. Remember that this is a natural process and that it’s okay to feel a mix of emotions.


Unlock the Bright Side of Your Move!

Moving to a new home can come with a variety of emotions and challenges that can take a toll on one’s mental health. However, it’s important to understand that this is also an opportunity for growth and new beginnings. By focusing on the positive aspects of your move, you can help alleviate some of the mental toll associated with relocation. [7]

One positive outcome of moving is the potential for more living space. Whether you’re moving to a larger house or apartment, this can provide an opportunity to declutter and start fresh. You may find that a spacious living area can help promote a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

Another positive aspect of moving is the chance to become part of a new community. This can be an exciting time to explore a new area and meet new people. Look for local events and activities to engage in, such as volunteer work or joining a community group.

Moving can also lead to new experiences and opportunities. Embracing change and stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to personal and professional growth. Take advantage of your new surroundings and try something new, whether it’s a new hobby or trying a new cuisine.

By acknowledging the change that comes with moving and embracing it, you can create a brighter future for yourself. While it may be challenging at first, this is an opportunity to grow and expand your horizons. Focus on the positive aspects of your move and strive to maintain an optimistic perspective.


Make New Friends

One of the most effective ways to alleviate relocation depression is by building a social circle in your new area. Having friends that you can confide in and share experiences with can help you feel more connected to your new home and improve your overall well-being.

The first step to building a social circle is to research social groups and clubs that meet on a regular basis in your new area. This can include anything from book clubs, spiritual small groups, or sports teams. By finding a group that shares your interests and hobbies, you’ll have a greater chance of making meaningful connections with new people.

Another way to meet new friends is by trying out new activities or hobbies that interest you. Sign up for a class or workshop and use this as an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion. This can help break the ice and give you a common ground to connect over.

Making friends can be more challenging if you find yourself in a rural area with limited options. In this case, consider meeting friends online through friendship or dating apps. These apps can help you connect with people who are also new to the area and looking to make friends. Arrange a meeting for a drink or food in a local spot and get to know each other better.

Remember that making new friends takes time and effort but is essential for your mental health and overall happiness. By building a social circle, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by your new home and have a greater sense of hope for a happy future. So put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to be a little bit vulnerable – you never know where your next friend might come from.


See It as an Opportunity

Moving is an opportunity to experience new things, meet new people, and create exciting new memories. While moving can be stressful, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and focus on the potential for growth and adventure.

A fresh start can be invigorating. It allows you to leave behind the familiar and embrace the unknown. This fresh start can bring new opportunities you might not have had in your old location, such as new job prospects, hobbies, and new experiences. By embracing this opportunity, you can take control of your life and create a better future.

Moving also allows you to broaden your horizons. You can learn about new cultures, explore unique neighborhoods, and create a new daily routine. You can also develop new interests and find new passions. This can be an exciting time in your life, filled with adventure and discovery.

Moving to a new location allows you to create new memories. You can explore new places, try new foods, and participate in new experiences. These memories will help shape your new life and make it rich and fulfilling.


Choose Movers That Go Above and Beyond for Their Clients

Choosing the right movers is one of the best ways to make your move as smooth and comfortable as possible. But how do you know which professional movers to turn to?

It’s essential to look for professional movers that go beyond industry standards. Not only will they have the necessary experience and skills to make the move more manageable, but they’ll also provide peace of mind. Knowing that your belongings are in the hands of trustworthy professionals can alleviate a lot of the stress involved in moving.

One of the best ways professional movers can alleviate the stress of moving is through full-service packing solutions. These packing services go beyond simply loading your items onto a truck. They take the load of packing off your back and offer peace of mind, especially when it comes to fragile or valuable items. By entrusting your belongings to experienced professionals, you reduce the risk of damage or loss during the move.

When researching the best movers nearby, it’s important to look for ones that have a reputation for quality and reliability. One of the best movers serving Western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities is Master Movers. They offer a wide range of moving services and have a customer satisfaction rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Master Movers Moving Company is also highly rated, with a focus on customer service, and a reputation for excellence.

movers loading a van



[1] How simply moving benefits your mental health – Harvard Health. (2016, March 28). Harvard Health.

[2] Common Sleep Disorders: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic.

[3] Depressive disorder (depression). (2023, March 31). Depressive Disorder (Depression).

[4] Mental health and forced displacement. (2021, August 31). Mental Health and Forced Displacement.

[5] (n.d.).

[6] Regular physical activity and mental health. The role of exercise in the prevention of, and intervention in depressive disorders] – PubMed. (2014, January 1). PubMed.

[7] Building Better Mental Health – (2023, March 1).

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