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Managing the Emotions That Come with Downsizing

Senior woman moving boxes while downsizing

A realistic look at the future suggests that most of us will come to a point in life when it’s time to downsize. Some people resist it. Others consider it an opportunity to get the support they need to enjoy their next chapter in life. No matter how you view it, downsizing can stir up a host of emotions. Here are some tips for dealing with the emotions of downsizing to help you get through this change without being overwhelmed:

Ask for Help

This is a big project at any time of life. Help from friends and family will lighten the workload and can ease your emotional distress, too. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed or rushed, or if you simply prefer to have the help of an expert, consider hiring a professional. A senior move manager can assist with every step of the process, or with only the tasks that you don’t want to tackle yourself.

Be Kind to Yourself

For most older adults, downsizing means leaving a home they’ve been in for decades. As you sort through belongings, memories will surface and, with them, laughter and tears. Recognizing – and making space for — the emotions that arise during the moving process can help make the transition easier. Let yourself cry if you feel like it. Consider writing about the memories that come up, or reminiscing with friends and family. And remember to treat yourself well — a cup of tea or a phone conversation with a friend after you’ve completed a particularly onerous task can make it easier to keep going.

Remember that New Possibilities Await

Your next home may be smaller, but you’ll have fewer household responsibilities and more time to enjoy new friends, fun activities and fresh adventures. Make a list of all the reasons you’re excited to be moving to a senior living community and look at your list occasionally to remind yourself that fresh possibilities await you in your new home.

Get Organized

Having a plan will help you feel more in control of the process, easing your anxiety. Grab your calendar, sit down with the loved ones who will be helping you, and start mapping out a schedule, remembering to build in plenty of time — even months — to prepare for your move date. Define your goals for each day leading up to the move to help you stay on task. And schedule breaks for yourself, too. This is a big project — you’ll need time for rest and relaxation so you don’t exhaust yourself.  

Start with the Easy Stuff

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s best to begin with the easiest, least emotionally charged, rooms in the house. The laundry room or linen closet are often a good starting point. As you sort and pack, you’ll develop a system and gain confidence that will serve you well when you turn your efforts to the more challenging rooms.

Once you’re ready to tackle the harder stuff — such as the kitchen or garage where possessions tend to accumulate — break the project up into small tasks. Do one drawer, cupboard or shelf at a time — giving yourself a pat on the back for each completed task. You’ll build momentum and enjoy a sense of accomplishment that will be helpful in dealing with the emotions of downsizing.

Make a Plan for Sorting

One of the most stressful parts of downsizing is deciding which belongings to keep and which to give away. Knowing the floor plan of your new residence will help you figure out how much space you’ll have. If you’re debating whether to keep or discard a particular item, ask yourself if it will be something you need in this next chapter of your life. If you feel sentimentally attached to an item that you know you won’t need, consider finding it a new home among loved ones. Or perhaps taking photos of special possessions or collections would make it easier to part with them. 

A Rightsized Life at Walnut Place

Dealing with the emotions of downsizing isn’t easy. But downsizing can be an important step toward rightsizing your life. In a senior living community like Walnut Place, you’ll find that the maintenance-free lifestyle and assistance with daily tasks gives you the support you need to enjoy an engaged and fulfilling new chapter in life. Contact us to learn more about assisted living and the other levels of care at Walnut Place.