Do you want to increase your stress? Try moving.

As an expert in stress management, I have spoken to thousands of individuals in corporate and other business settings. Many of these people have moved as a result of job changes. I have also worked with thousands of individuals who have decided to move for personal reasons. My conclusion is probably no surprise to you: moving can be stressful.

The reasons for the stress may be, however, a little more surprising. Here are several reasons for our stress when we move.

Security Alert.
Our homes provide security. They shelter us from the elements and from the outside world. When we make a move, we are giving up known levels of security and trading them for unknown security. This loss of security adds stress as part of our brains now have to be on the alert for potential dangers. It may takes weeks or months before we feel safe in the new environment.

Memory Triggers.
As we pack up our years of accumulated belongings, we are also forcing ourselves to review our lives. Although many of our possessions will trigger positive memories, some of them may trigger painful memories. We may find old photographs, mementos, letters, or clothing that remind us of losses. We must also make decisions about what to keep and what to discard. These discards can also represent losses as we leave our past lives behind.

Reprogramming Blues
Once we have lived in a home or apartment for many months, we become used to where we keep our things. We learn the locations of rooms, doors, steps, windows, cabinets, electrical and water outlets, and hundreds of other objects. As we learn these locations, our brain is programmed to remember them. When we move, we have to de-program our brains and reprogram them for the new locations. This forces our brains to work overtime in subtle ways that add to our stress and cause fatigue.

Support System Sacrifice
Our old community provided obvious and hidden supports. We learned the locations and hours of the local grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, religious and school institutions. We developed some acquaintances and friendships. In moving, we lose those support systems and have to find replacements. Although the new ones may be an improvement, it still requires effort on our parts to find them and make them part of our new lives.

Yes, moving is stressful. It does help, however, to become aware of these hidden sources of stress. Knowing the sources of our stress can also point us toward some solutions so that we can overcome the stress as quickly as possible.

(c) 2001 Scott Sindelar, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. This article may be freely copied only when including all of the authorship and contact information listed below and notification of publication is sent to the author.

Dr. Scott Sindelar is a Scottsdale, Arizona Psychologist, author, and expert on stress, fear and anger. He recently revised his book: Conquering The Fear of Rejection - How To Make Yourself Rejection-Proof.

He can also be reached at