How-to November 2, 2023

Is Moving Traumatic – How to Recognize and Ease Moving Stress

Julie Grace

Originally from The Golden City, Julie has explored the ins and outs of moving and has written all the tips down.

Relocating, a significant life event, can often bring a wave of excitement as we anticipate new beginnings and opportunities. Yet, hidden beneath the surface of that excitement lies a potent undercurrent of stress and anxiety. So, is moving traumatic, especially when you’re going over the borders? Let’s explore the emotional toll of relocating and the intricate web of emotions that make it stressful.

Is Moving Traumatic?

Moving overseas can indeed be a traumatic experience for many, as it often involves leaving behind familiar surroundings, saying goodbye to loved ones, and facing the unknown. The emotional and psychological impact of relocating can be significant, but recognizing and addressing this stress is the first step toward making the transition smoother.

Moving to Another Country? Free Estimate

According to the New York Post, 45% of people who recently moved found this event one of the most stressful they had to go through. Even having kids or going through a divorce is less stressful than relocating across the world.

A woman feeling stress when moving overseas
Relocating is one of the biggest stressors for most people

What Is the Psychological Impact of Moving Internationally?

The prospect of moving abroad, especially if you’re doing it alone, brings with it a unique set of psychological challenges. Leaving one’s home country, culture, and support network can be an emotionally daunting endeavor. The process of adapting to a foreign environment, adjusting to a new way of life, and coping with cultural differences can trigger stress and anxiety.

The uncertainty of international relocation, no matter the reason – for work, study, for love, and other personal reasons, often prompts individuals to grapple with a wide range of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to fear and homesickness. The sense of displacement, the language barrier, and the need to forge new connections can create a profound psychological impact.

Explore Some of the Most Common Signs of Moving Stress

Relocation often brings forth a wide array of stress signals. These signs encompass both psychological and behavioral indicators, shedding light on the emotional turmoil experienced during a transition. From a psychological perspective, individuals undergoing a move may find themselves grappling with heightened anxiety, mood swings, or even bouts of depression. The disorienting experience of leaving behind the familiar and adjusting to a new environment can take a toll on one’s mental well-being.

Moreover, the behavioral manifestations of relocation stress can be equally telling. These may include irritability, sleep disturbances, changes in eating patterns, and withdrawal from social activities. While the signs of stress are universal, they can manifest differently in various age groups and personality types. Young children might display signs of distress through clinginess, while teenagers may express resistance or withdrawal.

A tired woman resting after packing her belongings for a move
Be aware of signs of relocation stress

Recognizing the Line Between Moving Trauma and Stress

Is moving traumatic for adults? Yes, relocation can be highly stressful, but when does it cross the line into trauma? Relocation trauma occurs when the emotional impact of the transition becomes so profound that it leaves lasting scars on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being.

It often involves intense and persistent negative feelings, such as anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recognizing the distinction between these two terms is vital, as it can inform the type of support and coping strategies required during and after the relocation.

When Does Stress Turn into Trauma?

Is moving as traumatic for kids as it is for adults? Yes, but it’s important to understand that stress is a natural response to a significant life change. It often subsides as individuals adjust to their new surroundings and routines. Experience may differ due to unique challenges and coping mechanisms associated with different age groups. However, in some cases, stress can evolve into trauma.

This transition occurs when individuals struggle to cope with the stressors associated with the relocation and find it increasingly difficult to regain their emotional balance. When the symptoms of stress persist or worsen over time, they may lead to long-term psychological effects, indicating the transformation into trauma.

Are There Long-Term Effects of Relocation Trauma?

Relocation trauma, once it takes root, can leave a lasting impact on an individual’s life. The long-term effects may include persistent anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.

Additionally, individuals who have experienced relocation trauma may develop difficulties in forming stable relationships or trusting others. These long-term effects can be particularly pronounced in cases where the move was associated with traumatic events, such as loss or significant disruptions in one’s life.

It’s important to acknowledge that relocation trauma can have far-reaching consequences, and seeking professional help or therapeutic support may be necessary for those who find themselves grappling with its enduring effects.

Don't neglect the possible long-term effects of relocation trauma

Check Out Some Strategies to Ease Relocation Stress Before It Becomes Traumatic

Stress can be overwhelming, but there are strategies to help prevent it from turning into trauma. If you address the challenges that come with relocation, you can ease the transition and maintain your mental well-being. Let’s explore effective strategies to mitigate stress at various stages of the process, from pre-move preparations to the actual moving day.

Utilize Pre-Move Stress Reduction Techniques

In the lead-up to your move, incorporating mindfulness and relaxation practices into your daily routine can be immensely beneficial. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help you stay grounded and reduce pre-relocation anxiety.

Mindfulness encourages you to be present in the moment, allowing you to manage stress by focusing on the tasks at hand and acknowledging your emotions without judgment. These practices provide a calming counterbalance to the flurry of preparations and uncertainties that often accompany the pre-move phase.

Organize Your Relocation Like a Pro

Preparation is key to minimizing pre-relocation anxiety. Organize your relocation by creating a detailed moving-out list and timeline. Break down tasks into manageable steps, and set realistic goals for each day. Label your boxes clearly to streamline the unpacking process.

Stay organized and keep track of important documents, contracts, and contact information. By maintaining a structured approach, you’ll not only reduce the stress of the unknown but also increase your sense of control over the relocation process.

Prioritize Self-Care During the Relocation

During the actual relocation, it’s crucial to maintain some semblance of your daily routines. Continue to prioritize self-care, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Sticking to familiar routines can provide a sense of normalcy and stability amidst the chaos of relocating. Ensure you are getting the necessary rest and nourishment to stay physically and emotionally resilient throughout the transition.

Relocation day can be especially nerve-wracking, but there are strategies to keep stress at bay. Begin the day with a relaxing activity, whether it’s a short meditation session or a leisurely walk. Keep essential items like important documents, medications, and a comfort bag readily accessible. Delegate responsibilities to reduce your workload and ensure a smoother relocation process.

Moving Day calendar
Keep calm and have everything under control with good organization

Post-Move Stress Management

Once the boxes are unpacked and the new surroundings become familiar, post-move stress management becomes a crucial part of the journey. In this phase, your ability to settle into your new environment and recognize any signs of post-relocation trauma is essential. Here are the strategies and techniques to ensure a smoother transition as you embrace your new life.

The Importance of Creating Comfort Quickly

As you start settling into your new surroundings, it’s essential to create a sense of comfort quickly. Unpack familiar items and personal belongings that hold sentimental value, transforming your new space into a haven of familiarity. Establishing a cozy, safe environment can help ease the emotional transition and provide a comforting backdrop for the adjustment period.

Community Engagement and Support Networks

Engaging with your new community and building support networks can be instrumental in your post-relocation stress management. Connect with neighbors, join expat communities, local clubs or organizations, and explore communal events. Building relationships and creating a sense of belonging can help combat feelings of isolation and contribute to a smoother integration into your new life.

Seek Professional Help

While many individuals successfully navigate post-relocation stress, it’s important to be aware of the signs that may indicate post-move trauma. If feelings of depression, anxiety, or overwhelming stress persist for an extended period and significantly impact your daily life, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide support and therapeutic interventions to address post-relocation trauma effectively.

There are various resources and therapies available to assist with post-move adjustment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, and counseling can offer effective tools for coping with the emotional challenges of relocating. Additionally, exploring self-help books, online forums, and community resources can provide valuable insights and strategies for navigating the unique stressors of adjusting to a new environment.

Three women on a video call
Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it

How a Good International Moving Company Can Help Alleviate Stress

When it comes to international relocations, the choice of a company can significantly impact the overall experience. Professional international relocation companies play a crucial role in alleviating the stress associated with such a major life transition. They offer a range of international moving services, from efficient packing assistance and secure and temperature-controlled storage units to safe overseas vehicle shipping.

The convenience of having these services bundled together can save you time and effort. Furthermore, the expertise of movers in properly packing and securing your possessions is invaluable, minimizing the risk of damage during transit and reducing your anxiety about relocation.

How to Choose the Right Relocation Company?

Selecting the right international moving company is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success and stress levels of your relocation. That’s why you have to look for factors such as experience in international moves, accreditation, and positive customer reviews. Don’t forget to seek references, check for certifications, and verify their compliance with international shipping regulations.

Request detailed estimates and compare pricing, services, and insurance options. This thorough vetting process will help you choose an international relocation company that aligns with your needs and expectations, ultimately reducing your stress during the international relocation. If you choose to hire professional Shepherd International Movers, you won’t have to worry about last-minute issues.

Shepherd movers loading the truck for international moving
Having the professionals by your side leaves a lot more time for yourself

Embrace the Change Without the Trauma of Relocating Overseas

International moves can be overwhelming, but with the right support, you can navigate this significant life transition without succumbing to relocation trauma. Professional international relocation companies like Shepherd International Movers play a pivotal role in alleviating the stress associated with such major relocations. We bring expertise, logistics management, and a range of support services that make your relocation more manageable.

Embrace the change without the trauma, knowing that your belongings are in capable hands and your transition is in the hands of experts. If you wish to make your international relocation smoother and less stressful, contact us today and embark on your journey with confidence.


What Are the Most Common Stressors During a Move?

Common stressors during relocation include packing, logistics, adjusting to a new environment, and the emotional challenges of leaving behind familiar surroundings.

How Can I Tell if My Child Is Experiencing Moving Stress?

Signs of relocation stress in children may include changes in behavior, clinginess, withdrawal, academic difficulties, and expressing sadness or resistance.

What Are Some Quick Relaxation Techniques for Moving Day?

Quick relaxation techniques for the big day include deep breathing exercises, short meditation sessions, and taking short breaks to rest and de-stress.

Can a Move Cause PTSD?

While relocation is generally not associated with causing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some traumatic events related to relocation, such as military deployments or natural disasters, can potentially lead to PTSD.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Adjust to a New Home After Moving?

The time it takes to adjust to a new home varies from person to person, but it often takes a few months to settle in and adapt to the unknown environment.

What Should I Look For in a Moving Company to Ensure a Stress-Free Experience?

Look for experience in international moves, positive customer reviews, certification, and a range of services to ensure a stress-free relocation.

What Are Some Signs That I Should Seek Professional Help for Moving Trauma?

Signs to seek professional help for trauma include persistent anxiety, depression, mood swings, or any significant negative impact on your daily life and well-being.

What are you moving?

    Call: 844-789-8118