When Moving Throws You a Curve Ball
Have a big move coming up and you feeling a bit blah right now? During the shorter days and gloom of winter, it can be a real challenge to get motivated to take on a project, and moving is a big one. But we can’t control when an unplanned event comes up, or circumstances compels one to change locations.
Some people are impacted more than others with winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are experiencing SAD, and are moving from one house to another or across country, there are some ways to get through the process easier.
Understanding a bit more about SAD will help you deal with the blues.
Affecting both men and women, SAD is believed to be the result of chemical imbalances that occur because of a decrease in sunlight exposure. Symptoms can range from mild winter blues to severe anxiety. The Midwest and northern states are more likely to have people suffering from SAD because the winter months in these regions tend to be even darker due to bad weather. The worst months are January and February when days are shortest, preventing natural sunlight from triggering functions in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This section is responsible for the production of serotonin and dopamine our “feel good” hormones, and melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep.
There are ways to head off or counteract the effects of SAD as you prepare for the big move, and throughout the process.
Get all the sunlight you can. One of the most effective ways to combat SAD is by increasing natural light exposure. Open blinds wide when the sun is shining, or even when it is mostly cloudy. If you are removing shades and window coverings as part of your move, do it early in the process to take in as much sunlight as possible.
Invest in a light box. It might seem counterintuitive to purchase a lamp when you’re packing up to move. However, a compact and portable light for SAD therapy can be about the size of tablet and is very affordable. This specially filtered light supplements inconsistent natural sunlight during the winter to help stimulate the chemical regulation of hormones produced by the brain.
Get outside. Take every opportunity to get outside, such as tidying up the outside of the house you are leaving. Clear the entry of snow or go for a walk. Even when the air is chilly, if there is some sunshine, there are positive effects of being active outside. Plus, there is the added benefit of activating endorphins, more feel-good hormones from exercising.
Eat happy. If you’ve already packed your kitchen equipment for the move, it might be tempting to reach for carb-loaded comfort foods like a muffin or donuts for breakfast. While you might enjoy a short-term spike in serotonin, the “sugar crash” that follows may make you feel more sluggish. Opt for a complex carb breakfast like steel cut oatmeal in a pre-packaged cup.
Enlist help. SAD is very common. Don’t be afraid to share how you are feeling with those close to you and ask for help with the move. Delegating some chores to others such as packing up the Tupperware cupboard and clearing out the junk drawer will relieve stress and help prepare for moving day.
After the Move
Once you have landed in your new location, there are steps to take help you stave off SAD:
- Get out of the house. The boxes can wait. Take opportunities to get out and explore your new neighborhood or town, preferably on foot. Walking increases a sense of calm, and you might even discover a new-to-you shop, restaurant or landmark along the way.
- Accept and extend social invitations. Make connections with humans in your new area to start rebuilding social relationships. You may have to weed through a few people to find connections as close as where you came from.
- Reestablish sports and hobbies. If you were an active fisher-person in your previous area, check out the local bait shop and popular lakes. Volunteering is also a good way to pair your interests with giving back, while getting out of the house.
If you are moving here, to West Central Minnesota, welcome! We would be happy to share our knowledge of the different neighborhoods and community flavors.
Spring is just around the corner
In a few short weeks you will be in new location. Hopefully by unpacking time you will see buds on the trees and plenty of sunny days ahead.