Are you thinking about downsizing? Or are you in the process of downsizing or have already downsized? Downsizing can be emotionally hard. Let's talk about how to deal with the emotions of downsizing.
Downsizing and even the thought of downsizing can cause many emotions! Sadness, anxiety, grief, happiness, joy, relief, worry, and more! Today is the fifth edition of our Downsizing Series. Let’s chat about the common things that cause us so many emotions when we downsize our homes. And how to deal with all the emotions of downsizing.
You may want to read about my downsizing story HERE. I had lots and lots of emotions when the time came for us to leave our beloved home StoneGable and downsize to our Tanglewood House home.
If you have a story about the emotions of downsizing and how you handled them, please share your story in the comment section below. It might help someone.
So let’s dig into the emotions of downsizing!
THE EMOTIONS OF DOWNSIZING
When most of us think about the negative emotions of the downsizing process we may think of words like…
- fear of the unknown
- becoming a senior
- and more!
So let’s talk about all the things that cause these negative emotions first.
In all my research for this post and listening to others’ downsizing stories, and through my own downsizing experience, I know negative emotions are almost inevitable.
But here’s the end of the story at the beginning. Every story I have heard has lots of happiness, joy, and peace at the end! This is so important to remember as we talk about the emotions of downsizing! They are not all negative.
Like many things in life, it is the getting through it part that is toughest.
So let’s talk about some of the major things that bring up all these emotions in us. And how to cope with them.
CHANGE IS HARD
Here’s a solid truth, change is hard! No matter what the change. Most of the time any significant change in our lives stirs up feelings of anxiety and all of its negative cousins like sadness, stress, and the rest of the ugly lot!
We seem to be hot wired to be change adverse.
No wonder downsizing is hard. It is usually a huge change. It usually means moving to a smaller home and a new community a new chapter of life!
And here’s another truth. Although change is hard, it can also be good! It is so important to focus on the positive side of downsizing while in the process.
While I was crying and upset about letting go of our beloved StoneGable I kept in mind all the great things about our new life on the horizon.
IS IT REALLY TIME TO DOWNSIZE?
This is a huge question and the answer is different for everyone.
I think some of us just know when it is time. Some of us might know it’s time to downsize and need a nudge from family members or others (that’s you, Mom). Some of us have a clear plan for downsizing in place. And for some of us are not planning a downsizing move but it just happens!
There is no one right time! This is a very personal decision with a myriad of reasons to make the decision to move.
For us, Bobby and me, downsizing sneaked up on us rather quickly. We really had no plans of downsizing but a home in a location we loved was for sale and we went just to take a look at it.
The home turned out to be almost perfect for our needs at this time in our lives and beyond. So it made good sense to downsize.
I think the best posture to take when it comes to downsizing is to have an open mind about it. And assume a mental positive attitude. It is a blessing to live long enough to downsize!
So there is really no one right way to plan. Life comes in all sizes and circumstances!
A NEW PHASE OF YOUR LIFE
My mother is the most vibrant, with it, beautiful, active senior I know. She will be ninety-one in July and honestly, you would think she is in her seventies! She has an active Facebook page, drives herself everywhere, loves to travel, and is so mentally and physically sharp! She has defied age and we say she is timeless!
When she went to look at the fabulous local senior living community in our area a couple years ago, she said, “Why would I want to live there. It’s full of old people”. We howled! This is quintessentially MOM!
Downsizing seems to mark of ending one chapter of our lives and starting of another. And for many of us, that is hard!
Selling the home we raised our families in is often the threshold we cross over into a new phase of our life.
And because this new chapter is NEW there is usually a bit of fear of the unknown. Or a lot of fear of the unknown.
And downsizing also means getting older! And in our society that often prefers youth and often marginalized seniors and retirees that can be very deflating!
Oh, goodness no wonder there are so many emotions!
But a new chapter also means new adventures and more time for new things. And that can be so affirming and help raise our quality of life!
My mother has embraced her life with other “old people” and is swimming and going to shows, playing scrabble and traveling and meeting new friends, and enjoying the beauty and variety of her new digs! There is more to do than she has time to do it!
Her new chapter is perfect for her!
HOW DO I LEAVE THE HOME I RAISED MY FAMILY IN?
For me, this was a huge emotional mountain to get over! How could I ever leave my beloved home! We spent over 24 years living and loving our home. StoneGable was the hub of every holiday and special occasion for not only our family but our extended family and friends too. We raised our children in this home. I blogged about this home every day for 10 years!
And honestly, my identity was bound to StoneGable!
So the thought of letting go of our home was devastating. Just read my story!
How many of you can sympathize? Have you felt that way too?
My emotions about leaving StoneGable are pretty common. The emotions of leaving a “forever home” are huge! It’s so important to let yourself have those emotions. Mourn, cry, be sad. It’s a grieving process.
Here’s a post I wrote about Why I Love StoneGable before we even thought about moving. I re-read it and cried! And here is the post I wrote to tell my reader we moved. More big emotions! I was lucky enough to write all my feelings out and I think that helped so much in dealing with them!
The stress and sadness and emotions of leaving a beloved home and all of our happy past experiences are very common and very real! And so is the time when those emotions will not take center stage in your heart and hope and looking to the future will begin to take over.
And then one day you will actually make your peace with moving. Yes, it will happen!
Don’t get stuck in the wallowing and sadness of downsizing. As we move ahead and through the downsizing process, there are exciting things to focus on. Things to look forward to.
LEAVING BEHIND MEMORIES AND POSSESSIONS
This is a huge downsizing topic. Leaving behind memories and possessions causes lots and lots of big emotions! We will touch on this now but look for a post dedicated to downsizing or possessions.
Our precious possessions and belongings are often precious because they are tied up in happy memories!
And letting go of the treasures we cannot take with us is one of the big stresses of downsizing. I hear this over and over again.
Let’s face it. We love our stuff! Many of our important memories are tied to our things. And most of us are not easily parted from them.
Junk and trash and things with little or no meaning may be easy to let go of but the more history items have the harder it is to let them go. Think how hard it would be to let go of family heirlooms?
It would feel better if we could pass all of the things we consider precious to other family members. Especially our kids or grandchildren.
But our kids and grandkids probably don’t want our stuff! And maybe not our family heirlooms either!
We need to remember, that our memories are tied up in our stuff. Our kids have different memories. And they probably don’t want all the stuff that belongs to them that we have kept in our basements for years and years!
I was shocked when our son did not want all his baseball trophies I lovingly wrapped and carefully boxed. I could easily recall each and every occasion he won those trophies! So could he, but they were in Christopher’s past. Now he is busy making memories with his own young growing family. So I tucked those precious memories into my mother’s heart and let the trophies go.
I had the same experience with our daughter. She did not want her first pair of itsy-bitsy pink ballet shoes or her sparkly high school crown! She has three little boys now and pink ballet slippers and crowns are not part of her world!
Here’s a big shocker to many of us, our kids don’t usually want their childhood stuff!
So as I cleaned out the basement filled with a lifetime of things I could not take to our new downsized home, I took a second or two to pack up the memories attached to them and tuck them carefully away in my heart. And in the end, I had a full heart and an empty basement.
I took pictures of all the precious things (mostly tied to our kid’s childhood) that we could not take with us to our new downsized home. That really made it easier to let those things go.
Although it might be hard, it is important to look forward to making more wonderful memories in our downsized home.
OTHER CAUSES OF EMOTIONS WHEN DOWNSIZING
There are other common things that cause us negative emotions during the downsizing process. Here are a few…
- leaving family and friends
- being a part of a new community
- moving into a new space
- financial concerns
- establishing new friendships
- thinking about long-term care or home care
- getting older
- moving into a different stage of life
- finding movers
- new surroundings
- finding a caregiver
- emotional challenges
- dealing with a spouse who is not on the same page
- and more!
5 WAYS TO MANAGE THE EMOTIONS OF DOWNSIZING
There are positive and healthy ways to manage the emotions of downsizing. Here are five ways that may be helpful to you…
ACKNOWLEDGE AND FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS
No use trying to muffle or stuff down our emotions! Because they will make themselves known in other unhealthy ways.
Acknowledging them means admitting that they are real and you are working through them. That does not mean letting them get the best of you or others.
I had lots of big emotions when we downsized. I spent three weeks ugly crying when the first realization hit me that yes, we were going to leave StoneGable. And I had a few sleepless nights when our home went on the market.
I let myself have those emotions and that way I could work through them.
Just know that even the most steady and non-emotional people have big emotions over downsizing! It’s one of those big life changes that carry big amounts so stress, loss, and uncertainty!
DEAL WITH YOUR EMOTIONS AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
The best way to deal with all those emotions of downsizing is in healthy and positive ways. And it is a time to take especially good care of ourselves.
For many of us, downsizing can be a frenetic and super busy time and we may not take the best care of ourselves.
I remember how busy, from morning till dusk, our packing days were and how pizza became our diet for several days in a row. Not eating well made me sluggish and tired. And it was so much harder to deal with the stresses of downsizing!
Simple, good-for-you things, like eating well, getting enough sleep, taking any meds, keeping up with your exercise routine, and drinking enough water are important habits to make a priority while you are downsizing! They will make you feel physically and emotionally better.
Prayer is a very good way to deal with your emotions too. When we downsized I stayed close to God through prayer. I prayed for everything and I mean everything! When my stress level went up my prayers went up to the Lord!
Knowing God was in control (even though I think I am most of the time) was a very important part of keeping calm and carrying on! Bobby and I decided, when we first thought we might like to move into Tanglewood, that we would pray and walk through the “open doors” God provided. And if for some reason God shut doors and things did not work out, then they were not God’s will for our lives.
This truth gave us lots of peace!
Prayer is a powerful weapon against emotions that are defeating!
FOCUS ON THE GOOD
There is a lot of good about downsizing! Lots and lots! So let’s focus on every single good thing! Every single one!
One of the things that made downsizing easier for me was to think about all the things I loved about the Tanglewood House. I got laser-focused on the reasons why we decided to move and that really helped. I actually became quite excited!
Another thing that helped was we also started praying for the new sweet family that would move into StoneGable. We were so thrilled for them!
There are lots of feelings and emotions that go along with downsizing. Just make sure to focus on and spend time dreaming about all the good things too!
Think of all the fun and healthy changes you will be making in your life!
GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
If you are having an especially hard time downsizing or feel stuck in your emotions, please get help!
Talking to professionals will do anyone going through the stresses of downsizing a whole lot of good!
Don’t live with negative emotions and don’t be a martyr and try to handle your emotions if they are making you sick or depressed!
NEXT DOWNSIZING TOPIC
We’ve talked a lot about the emotions of downsizing. And they are a very real and important part of the process!
But there are lots and lots of benefits of downsizing and that is what we will talk about next month.
If you have a story about downsizing please share it below. And let us know how you handled all the emotions of downsizing in the comments.