How To Reduce the Stress of Moving Out After a Breakup
It’s one of those unfortunate facts of life that most of us will have to deal with at some point – a breakup. There’s a reason there are countless songs, stories and movies about breaking up. It’s something that has a profound impact on our life, sometimes for a short while, sometimes longer, but regardless, it’s usually a very emotionally difficult time for both sides of the relationship.
What can make a breakup even tougher is the change that comes after it, particularly if you’ve been living together. If you’ve been sharing a home, chances are good that you also share many of the items you own – big and small – and maybe even children or pets are involved.
The best general advice for anyone going through a breakup is to take things one step at a time, one day at a time, and be kind to yourself. Whether you’re preparing to move out of a shared home or you’re staying while your former partner prepares to leave, there are many things that will be challenging along the way. Read on for some tips to reduce the stress of moving out after a breakup.
Set Your Priorities
Moving is stressful enough before adding the extra layer of a broken relationship. When you find yourself in an emotional situation like a breakup, having to deal with the logistics of changing living arrangements and making tough decisions like splitting of assets will become even more difficult. When emotions are heightened, the likelihood of arguments breaking out over who will get shared items is higher. The best thing to do is to focus on the tasks at hand and really make a point of setting your priorities as it applies to the separation process.
To avoid arguments it helps to plan in isolation, before you have to discuss any conflicts. Sit down and make a list of the shared items, and then highlight the things that mean the most to you or that you feel you will need the most once you’re living on your own. There may be several things in your home that remind you of your ex-partner in a more sentimental way, so make note of those items.
For the more sentimental items that remind you of your relationship with your ex, it would likely be best to offer those to your ex-partner. Even if they’re useful to you or valuable, it may not be a good idea to keep them if having them is going to negatively affect your healing process. However, if you want to keep these types of items, but need them out of sight for a while, temporary portable storage may be a good option for you.
While laws regarding the splitting of assets vary from province to province, couples who have been living together for an extended period are often entitled to half of the value of shared property and more expensive items like furniture, electronics or vehicles. In these cases, you should make a list of these types of items and try to come up with a way to split them evenly so that both sides are happy and come away with items that equal to the same value. If you’re not able to do that, you may need to be prepared to pay your ex-partner half the value of an item that was acquired while you were living together. While this could be expensive, it may be easier financially than buying everything new again.
What about shared children or pets?
When it comes to sharing custody of children, that is an extremely sensitive topic that is best handled with the help of a lawyer and others who specialize in facilitating those types of arrangements.
Close behind the sensitivity of dealing with sharing custody of children after a breakup, is pets. Both parties in a breakup could be very emotionally attached to a shared pet. If you and ex-partner are in a position to share time with your pet, and it’s something that you can both handle from an emotional perspective, then it may be worth a try. However, in most cases, it will be best for the animal to live with one person permanently.
Questions to ask when deciding who will get the pet after a breakup:
- Who purchased the pet originally?
- Who mainly pays for its food and vet visits?
- Who will be able to financially support having a pet on their own?
- Who will have the appropriate amount of space for the pet after you’re living in separate homes?
- Who will have the appropriate amount of time to care for the pet?
It’s very likely that whatever decision is made regarding pets, children or shared items, there will still be feelings of sadness, loss and disappointment felt by both parties. This is something that will be very difficult to avoid. Read on to the next section to learn more about navigating these difficult feelings.
Lean on Your Support Network
It goes without saying that having the support of family and friends is more important than ever when going through a breakup. Talking to those who know you best will help you work through your feelings, but those who love you are also likely to be eager to help you with the more tangible aspects of a breakup as well.
In most cases our close family and friends feel helpless during emotional situations because they can do anything to “fix” things for you. It’s for this reason that you shouldn’t be afraid to lean on them and ask for their help with tasks like coming with you to look for a new place to live, making meals, packing, moving, etc.
Friends and family may also be able to help with things like speaking to, or even negotiating with your ex-partner if you’re finding it hard to handle that yourself. If there are things you need to pick up from your former home, or if your ex will be visiting to pick up some of their things, having a friend or family member present to handle that face-to-face interaction could be very helpful.
If at any point you’re feeling so overwhelmed or emotional that you’re having trouble tackling day to day activities and tasks, you should seek the help of your doctor or a mental health professional. Speaking with someone with psychological and medical training can be extremely beneficial as they will be able to put your mind at ease and give you some educated advice about how to help you cope with the stress of a breakup.
Carve Out Specific Time To Look for a New Place
If you’re the one who will be leaving the shared home, you may be staying with a family member or at a friend’s place in the meantime. You will be feeling stressed and emotionally drained, but it’s still important to push yourself to get things done so that you’ll be in a more stable place sooner.
As we mentioned above, ask a loved one to come with you to look at new places. Make appointments and let them know when and where they are so they can not only be there for you, but also keep you accountable and motivated to keep those appointments.
While it may be hard to feel excited about the house-hunting process, it’s important to put forth the energy to find the right place because if you rush and just accept the first option you find, you may feel more resentment, and even regret afterwards, which will only make the healing process harder.
Create a Moving Budget
Going from living in a household with two incomes, to living alone with one income can be a big change that will take some getting used to.
Find time to sit down and really take a close look at your finances, the timing of things that are going to happen, and not only figure out what you can afford for a new home in terms of rent or a mortgage, but also budget for a moving service.
You may find that it makes the most sense for you to do as much of the work as you can yourself (but again, don’t be shy to ask your friends and family for help here!) to save on costs. Depending on how much stuff you’ll be moving, the amount of time you have to complete the move, and how far you’ll be moving, there are some fairly affordable do-it-yourself moving services like renting a truck or using a moving container.
Budgeting is never fun, but it’s an important thing to do in order to keep your spending in check. For more detailed advice, check out these posts: 6 Ways to Save Money on your Move and What’s the Cheapest Way to Move Across Canada?
Schedule Alone Time To Gather Your Things
Whether or not your relationship has ended amicably, it’s still a good idea to make a schedule for you or your ex to go through their things and spend some time packing for their move.
Having some alone time to go through your items will allow you to process feelings and even grieve without the added stress of feeling watched or rushed. It may also be a good idea to bring a friend or family member along, so this step doesn’t get too overwhelming.
If your ex will be visiting your home to pack their things, make a plan to be out during that time. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your ex alone in the home to sort and pack, see if a friend or family member (or even more than one) would be willing to be present during that time.
Experiment With Your Style
Once you or your former partner have moved out and you’re living on your own, take a look at your home and think about ways to change it to make it more your style. Focusing on what makes you happy is a great way to improve your mental health, even if it’s little things.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to paint your walls a certain colour, but your ex didn’t agree. Or, maybe you’re passionate about a certain type of art or decorative style that you’ve never taken the time to bring into your home. This new stage of your life could be the perfect time to explore your style and creativity to make your surroundings more “you”.
Once the dust has settled after dealing with a move after a breakup, it’s important to create a new routine that involves rewarding yourself because it can be very beneficial to your mental health. It may sound silly, but there is actually science behind this practice!
When you do something enjoyable, or you treat yourself for reaching a goal or accomplishing a task, your brain will release dopamine. Why is this important? Read on…
“Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.” WebMD
Even the smallest personal rewards, such as buying yourself your favourite coffee before a day of house-hunting or splurging on a professional massage after a day of unpacking or cleaning can have a positive impact on your mental health. Being kind to yourself and rewarding yourself every now and then will trigger dopamine spikes in your brain, which will give you a surge of pleasure and in turn increases your future motivation and productivity.
Learn more about why it’s important to reward yourself.
We hope these tips for reducing the stress of moving out after a breakup are helpful to you. At BigSteelBox, it’s our goal to make moving and storage feel better for our customers because we know how stressful it can be. If you think we could make your move feel better, call us at 1-800-373-1187 or submit a request online and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and do what we can to make the process as easy as possible for you.