If you thought that moving home was a source of joy for most people, think again. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, an authoritative list of major life stressors that can affect health, lists changing residence, having a major mortgage, and having to face the foreclosure of a mortgage as some of life’s biggest challenges. We know that change per se can be a cause of anxiety, but when financial difficulties are also involved, the ‘fight or flight response’ can be invoked more often than is ideal for our mental health. The result can be anxiety, panic attacks, and the fear that we cannot deal with such a big change. The antidote involves accepting your fears, and moving ahead despite them. After all, these emotions will not last forever.
Financial Stress and Anxiety
If you have had to move from a home in which you have created beautiful memories with family, then it is only logical to expect a high degree of stress. As noted by Alignment Care’s Dr. Arta Bakshadeh, the overwhelming majority of people whose medical problems can be attributed to stress, have money problems at the root of their worries, and cash-strapped families often have to sell a home to meet their bills or pay off business debts. A 2016 study published in the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, found that financial stress can result in the increase of CRP: a protein that is found in increased concentrations among those who have anxiety. This protein is linked to heart disease and is vital to keep within acceptable levels. You need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle financial stress in a productive manner, of course, especially if you already have anxiety to begin with.
A Catch-22 Situation?
The financial stress-anxiety link can be cyclical, since stress can lead you into a state of panic, and panic itself can stop you from taking the steps you need to lower your stress levels. Even if you have a big debt to settle, or a business hasn’t performed as well as you expected, a sound financial strategy can help you maintain your lifestyle to the greatest extent possible. There may be alternative ways to reduce your debt and keep your home – for instance, by taking out a reverse mortgage, or by considering renting your home out for a limited period until you get back on your feet. Facing your problems and understanding that the only thing you cannot fix yourself is poor health, can help you obtain the mental clarity you need to limit the damage of financial loss.
Financial difficulties aren’t the only source of moving stress. Having to adapt to new surroundings, find new schools for children, buy new furniture and equipment, etc. can be overwhelming because all these decisions may need to be taken within a relatively short period of time. The best way to reduce anxiety and stress is to take control by being thoroughly informed. Consider school and furniture hunting as a fun challenge rather than a burden. Understand that fear always accompanies change, but look back on your life and see the many benefits you attained from making important changes such as travelling, taking up a new study course, or moving cities.
Finding the Right Fit
If you have made your best efforts to mentally accept the challenge of a move, but you find that anxiety and panic are keeping you in a rut, seeing a therapist may be of great help. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, the link between how you think, feel, and behave will become clearer. A therapist will be able to suggest small changes (for instance, to your behavior or coping strategies) which can make a significant impact on the way you view your move. For some people, holistic activities such as yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi are powerful (and proven) ways to reduce levels of stress hormone, cortisol. These practices rely on mindfulness, which encourages us to accept (instead of fight against) difficult emotions like stress, fear, and anxiety, bolstered by the realization that they are all impermanent. Relaxing herbs, exercise, and good sleep hygiene can also help reduce anxiety levels during a move.
If you feel anxious during your next home move, just breathe! Inhaling for a few seconds and exhaling for a little longer will immediately lower your heart and breathing rate, so you can reach a calmer state. Ironically, it is during the most stressful times in life that you need to work hardest to keep cortisol levels down. Finding calm in breathing and meditation will put you in the right frame of mind to look at the state of your finances and do the research you need. These and other mindful practices will also lift your mood and vitality, which is exactly what you need to start seeing your move as an exciting new chapter in your life.