How I Handle Moving Stress, Part 1

Recently, I moved across the country for school. I basically packed up my life and moved. A cross-country move, as expected, was stressful and complicated. Surprisingly, though, I did not flare up until a couple of weeks afterward.

Honestly, I had never done a full house move before. The last time (I was still in school) and did not partake in the actual move. I learned I had a massive amount of belongings and more furniture than I think I will ever need.

Our storage unit was packed to brim with memories from my past life and we moved with them. To add insult to injury, none of the boxes were marked. I will circle back to this in a second.

RA-friendly packing tips for a cross-country move

As you probably already know, stress is gasoline on a fire to rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. A drop of stress can derail me into a serious flare.

So, I try to minimize stress wherever I can. Even though this is my first full move, I have to say I did a pretty good job with it. I didn’t flare until after we were settled in, so I wanted to share the things that helped me move.

In this first part, I share a few pre-packing ideas and in the next part, I will share the tips while packing and after setting up in the new place.

Start early and save up

When I realized classes would probably be in-person, I started preparing for the move. I saved old shipping boxes and materials, I made lists, I started paring down the belongings that were in the house.

Acquire moving boxes over time

Pro tip: ask your local liquor stores or grocery stores for extra boxes. They are usually happy to pass them on since they will end up in the garbage anyway. Also, some moving companies ask people to "donate back" their boxes which they give away to new clients, for free.

Also, ask your neighbors! Mine were more than happy to send their old shipping boxes my way. Moving companies charge an arm and a leg for new boxes. To minimize the already high price tag of a move, saving boxes and other shipping materials was a life-saver.

Since my schooling is up in the air (I don’t know where I will end up) I kept as many shipping boxes as possible. I know I’ll need them again soon!

Make a list and pack in short intervals

Additionally, I knew I couldn’t do long stretches of packing. I made lists of what went in each box and spent only a couple of hours each day packing. The lists helped me streamline my packing.

I got up and stretched every 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how I felt). I took long breaks at 45-minute intervals. And yes, those breaks were usually naps.

Label, label, label

On my bad days, I continued to make lists: what went in each box, labeled each box with a number, marked which boxes needed to be opened immediately and which ones could wait. I didn’t force myself to pack through flares because I knew it would make things worse. And, a flare during packing is bad news bears.

In each box was an index card detailing the contents in each box. I created a checks and balances system and created a master list that stayed on my computer. It had the box number, the color, and the items in each box just in case I lost the index card or the boxes got mixed up. This came in handy since yes, in the kerfuffle of moving, the boxes ended up all over the house and not in their allotted locations.

In the next article, I will share my other tips for how I lowered my stress. They are mostly mental tricks I used to keep myself calm and grounded during the whole process.

What tips do you have for moving? LMK in the comments.

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