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Managing the Emotions That Come With Downsizing

A senior man hands a sealed box or package to a man

Downsizing—whether because of choice or circumstance—can be a highly emotional experience. The mind and heart aren’t always in full sync, and downsizing as you transition to a new stage of life is a prime time for plenty of conflicting feelings.


Even so, dealing with the emotions of downsizing doesn’t have to put a damper on the excitement of a fresh beginning. Giving yourself plenty of time and grace will go a long way toward effectively managing emotions and smoothing your path toward a rewarding new retirement lifestyle.


When Downsizing Makes Sense

In many cases, downsizing is a practical decision. That knowledge may not make it easier to part with a beloved home and neighborhood, but what might: reminding yourself of the advantages that come with a smaller living space. Older adults choose to downsize for any number of reasons, like reducing mortgage liability, eliminating unused space, reducing household chores, or relocating closer to loved ones.


Another common motivation for downsizing is the amenities a senior living community provides. Trading unused space in a family home for a one- or two-bedroom apartment or cottage can be a welcome exchange for access to a fitness center, lifelong learning opportunities, and engaging activities—not to mention the peace of mind that comes with having a plan for the future if you choose a Life Plan Community like Stonebridge at Montgomery.


Set Yourself Up for Success

You may be ecstatic about your impending move, or you may be a few rungs down on the excitement scale. Regardless, downsizing is a big life change and it comes with a hefty dose of stress—and hard work. Dealing with the emotions of downsizing will come easier when you have a plan to guide you through the process.


Give yourself plenty of time. When you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming change, it’s human nature to procrastinate. However, the more time you give yourself to navigate your downsizing process, the less pressure you’ll feel to rush through important decisions like sorting belongings and organizing what you’d like to take with you to your new home.


Acknowledge and process the emotions as they come. You’re likely to feel a wide range of different, and sometimes conflicting, emotions as you prepare for moving to senior living. Effectively dealing with the emotions of downsizing means allowing yourself to recognize and deal with the emotions as they come, rather than tucking them away for later.


Give yourself permission to feel a bit sad or nervous or anxious—or maybe even a little guilty that you’re so excited to move into a stage of life that lets you focus more on your own wants and needs. Those are all normal and healthy reactions to downsizing, and talking about and reflecting on the feelings in the moment will help you find greater peace with the changes ahead.


Tackle less emotionally laden tasks first. Allow yourself to ease into the process by taking care of some basic business first. For example, you might start sorting and packing in a pantry or bathroom, where you’re less likely to encounter sentimental items or trigger a flood of memories. Testing the waters before you move into more sensitive territory will give you a chance to deal with the emotions of downsizing on your own terms


Enlist help from others. Use time sorting belongings to share stories and memories with loved ones, and consider engaging a senior downsizing service for help with some of the other tasks. For example, our Move Ahead program provides move-in coordinators with years of experience who can help you navigate the entire process, from recommending movers to staging your home to sell.


Discover How Downsizing Can Bring You Joy

One of the most effective methods of dealing with the emotions of downsizing is focusing on what lies ahead. A maintenance-free lifestyle with enriching amenities and thoughtful services make Stonebridge at Montgomery an ideal downsizing destination. Plan a visit to explore our living options and get a jump start on your own downsizing process by downloading our step-by-step guide.


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